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Only a few spots left! Register NOW for our May Class: Craft a Winning Book Proposal

bookstackDue to popular demand, we’ve teamed with with the Queen Anne Writers Studio to bring you our book proposal workshop! To date, we’ve had many students turn their dream of publishing into a reality, and this class is where many of them started. One student even said, “I went from feeling hopeless to hopeful.” Our classes have a tendency to do that to people.

Here’s the thing: You may have a terrific book idea ready to set the publishing world on fire. Alas, without a spot-on book proposal, it may never see the light of day. Don’t let this happen to you! Learn how to create a savvy and professional proposal that will make publishers and agents sit up and take notice. During our 4-hour workshop, we will walk you through the key elements of any successful proposal—including title/subtitle, opening pitch, author bio, and marketing plan—and help you polish each one with hands-on exercises and individual feedback. Class size is small so you and your idea will get plenty of attention.

Make no mistake: Crafting a killer, on-point proposal is absolutely essential to succeeding in the current marketplace no matter what publishing route you take. You’ll leave this workshop not only committed to getting the book deal of your dreams, but with a concrete start to every section of your proposal. Don’t you feel more hopeful already?

When: Saturday, May 14, 1–5pm

Where: Tulinda Yoga Studio, 618 McGraw Street, Queen Anne

Who: Suitable for any writers actively working on or thinking about a book. No matter the genre, where you are in the writing process, or how you’d ideally like to publish, this class will ensure you have the best shot at publication. (While book proposals are expected for nonfiction titles, we encourage all aspiring authors to write a proposal, as it will make their submission—and their book—stronger.)

Fee: $199. You can register via PayPal here. Your payment in full confirms your registration and reserves your spot. Space is limited to 15, so register early.

What to bring: Bring something on which to write, be it laptop or pen and paper. (Please charge up before coming and bring your power cord, and we’ll do our best to accommodate your charging needs.) Please also bring your mobile coffee mug or water bottle. We’ll have coffee, tea, and water on hand.

(photo: craftbuds.com)

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5 tips to building an author platform—without being an author

authorz-platform.jpgIn our experience, there are two words that strike the most fear into the heart of any aspiring author: AUTHOR PLATFORM. [Cue creepy organ music.] Our clients know they need to sell themselves when they sell their book. They know that it’s not just their craft being evaluated by an agent or publisher, but their personal story, credentials, and potential reach to the book’s target market. All of this is rolled up into an individual writer’s author platform, and it must be highlighted persuasively in the proposal and query letter. After all, it’s a job application: When you think about it, every writer is applying for the job of author at that particular house. You have to show why you’re worth their investment.

“But I’ve never been published before!” our clients moan. “How can I build my author platform when I’m not even an author yet?”

Good question. We’ll tell you how. (And by the way, whether you have a glimmer of a book idea or a polished draft, the time to start bulking up your author platform is now.)

  1. Begin offering your services. If you have a kids book, offer to read it at schools, libraries, or kids bookstores. Could you do a demo at a cooking store, or offer to help party-plan a high-profile charity event? Could you get on a local radio show or panel during a discussion that your book might pertain to? Does your expertise lend itself to a conference, charity organization, or event, where you could speak and get publicity in return? All this shows you are making a name for yourself on your topic. (If you have great ideas of things you could do, but haven’t yet, include those in your proposal, too.)
  1. Start a blog. If it makes sense for your book, start an on-point and well-crafted blog, and start subscribing and commenting on other, more high-profile blogs on the same subject. You don’t need a giant audience here. A simple, nicely written blog and/or author website shows you’re committed to your topic and showcases your writing. (Because trust us, the first thing an agent or publisher will do is Google you.
  1. Tweet. Especially for nonfiction writers, start following folks in your field or subject area, and they’ll follow you back. And try to tweet, respond, and retweet a couple of times a day.
  1. Reach out to the writing community. Jump into the writer’s community, both where you live and online. Not only will you find your tribe, but those same people can be really supportive when it comes time to promote your book.
  1. Be a media whore. Yep, we said it. Get your name out there, any way you can. Who is covering a subject that you can speak to? (Ideally this is also your books’ subject, but not necessarily.) When you’re positioning yourself as an author, it’s no time to be shy. Contact local radio stations and print media to offer yourself as an expert. Register for HARO (Help a Reporter Out), where reporters contact experts on a wide variety subjects. A few minutes of your time could mean you’re quoted in a national publication and will come up in searches on that topic.

Now, once you start making inroads, use that info for your book proposal or query letter. It’s a huge selling point of your book these days. Incorporate all of this into a compelling picture of you as an author, someone who can both deliver the goods and be comfortable telling their story to the media.

(photo: authorblogchallenge.wordpress.com)

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Start your book proposal before you finish your manuscript

It’s true. It’s a smart idea to start your book proposal even while your manuscript is still in progress.

To that end, join us for Get Published!, an intensive and results-oriented weekend workshop for aspiring authors on January 23 & 24, 2016! In just 36 hours, writers will leave with all the tools they need to craft a successful proposal and pitch their book to agents and publishers with confidence. For more information on the retreat, check out this video:

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Get Published! A Retreat for Aspiring Authors at Willows Lodge

bookstackOver the weekend of January 23–24, 2016, join us for a one-of-a-kind publishing retreat for aspiring authors at Woodinville’s award-winning Willows Lodge! Whether you have a glimmer of a concept or a polished draft, we have structured the two-day retreat to help you get published, no matter your genre. During this practical and inspirational weekend, you’ll be treated to hands-on workshops and receive individual attention to move your book project forward in a significant way. You’ll leave the weekend with your proposal, query letter, and submission plan well under way.

To make your reservation, please contact Shaina Phillips at 425-424-2965 or via e-mail at shaina.phillips@willowslodge.com.

There will be a 7 day advance cancellation policy and package price will be charged at that time.

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Register now for our May U-W publishing course!

U-W logoGive us a month, we’ll give you a finished proposal. That’s our promise for our upcoming four-week course, Publishing Your Book in Today’s Marketplace, via University of Washington’s Professional & Continuing Education (UWPCE). This hands-on and results-oriented class takes place on the UW Seattle campus on Thursday evenings, May 7–28. Give us a month, we’ll get your book proposal ready to submit!

Here are the details:

This four-week course will illuminate each step of the book publishing process to help you bridge the gap between manuscript and publication. We will show you how to research the marketplace and assess competing titles, develop a compelling author platform, create a marketing plan for your book, craft a thorough proposal and query letter, and submit to agents and editors. The instructors will also demystify the publishing process and give you the tools you need to be business-savvy authors, no matter what publishing route you choose. Regardless of genre or where you are in the manuscript process, this course will help you focus your book project and prepare it for publication.

Through our proven materials, encouraging and humor-filled presentations, and in-class exercises and homework assignments, you will quickly create a polished and on-point proposal that’s submission-ready.

Cost: $299 | 1 CEU | Registration Number: 147293

Registration is open and space is limited so enroll today HERE!

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What’s your publishing resolution for 2015? Talking books on New Day Northwest

New Day Northwest picWe had the pleasure of talking with Margaret Larson on New Day Northwest this morning about resolutions that matter, namely getting a book deal in 2015! To that end, we talked about our upcoming retreat, Women & Words at Willows Lodge. From January 31–February 1, women are invited to come to the Willows Lodge in Woodinville and refocus on their book project.

No matter your genre or where you are in the writing process, our publishing retreat will give you all the tools and intel to complete a slammin’ proposal and submit with confidence in short order. Nothing makes us sadder than thinking about unsubmitted manuscripts. We demystify the process and break everything down into doable, digestible tasks you can complete in just a few weeks. We promise. Check out our New Day Northwest segment here.

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How to Get an Agent: A Q&A with Author Curt Weiss

CurtWeissAfter wanting to know how to get published, the most common question we get is: “How do I find an agent?”

We feel your pain.

Securing an agent is just as hard as landing a publishing deal these days, and requires savvy, a thorough submission, and persistence. When we heard one of our former clients landed an agent, we asked him to share his journey, as well as any advice he picked up along the way.

After over thirty years of working in media and the arts, Curt Weiss knows a good story when he hears one. Now he’s ready to tell the oh-so-good story of one of the most influential and overlooked musicians of their time: Jerry Nolan of the infamous Punk Rock granddaddies, the New York Dolls.

Tell us about your path to seeking and securing an agent.
I had been writing and researching my book on and off since 2006. I hadn’t really given much thought to how I was going to sell the book, thinking I would figure it out after writing it. Little did I know…

In the summer of 2013 a writer friend of mine told me about the Willamette Writer’s Conference. When she explained to me that this was an event where you could meet literary agents, I figured that, after seven years, it was time to jump in feet first. My book was about 95-percent finished so I had no reason to wait anymore.

I researched the event and realized that I needed to learn how to pitch my book to agents. The whole gist of the event is setting up meetings (either one on one or in small groups) with literary agents where you’ll have a limited amount of time to convince them that you’ve got something that’s right up their alley. I needed to learn how to sell my book and myself in no more than two minutes (group pitch) and up to five minutes (one on one pitch).

Before I even learned how to pitch, I had to figure out which agents to pitch to. At conferences like Willamette, you pay for each agent you pitch to, so you need to be selective. Before reserving a spot with an agent, I read their bios (available on the conference website) and found agents who were looking for books like mine. As I was selling a non-fiction oral history on a junkie New York rock and roll musician from the Punk era, I looked for agents interested in the arts, urban grit, bios, etc. Conversely, if their interests were, for example, romance novels, science fiction or young adult genres, I didn’t waste my time and money booking time with them.

The week before the event I attended a pitch workshop given by Cynthia Whitcomb in Portland. I worked her system, practiced and practiced and then practiced some more. She reviewed and critiqued it by e-mail afterwards and my writer pal did the same. It was also important to time myself so I wouldn’t be rushed when the time came to pitch my book.

There was a pitch slam on the first night of the conference, where people lined up and one after another pitched to a panel of agents in front of hundreds of people. If you have trouble speaking in public, you need to get over it quickly. Besides getting in more practice of your pitch, I got to hear others. I noted what worked and what didn’t and kept refining my pitch as well as my delivery. I realized that you can’t read a script. It’s one-part conversation, one-part sermon, one-part advertisement, and another part political speech. You’re selling an idea (your book) but you’re also selling yourself, your abilities, and your credentials. No one can tell this story except you. And no matter how emotional your story is, DO NOT CRY. Practice selling emotion without crying.

The next day, I began two-and-a-half days of meeting agents and pitching. Here’s a tip: if you’re in a group pitch, sit in the center, opposite the agent. The agent will usually go in a circle and as you don’t know whether they’ll start on the right or left, you don’t want to be last and feel rushed if the pitch session is running long. Sitting in the center means you won’t go last and you can face them head on.

I had 13 agents to meet. I ended up getting 10 requests for proposals. Of course, I had no proposal and barely knew what it was. As I was doing 13 pitches, I started to see the same people at the agent’s tables and I started to talk to them between meeting agents. I noted who had already published a few books and asked them about their processes and any tips or suggestions. Like most conferences, there was a table of books for sale, including some related to writing non-fiction book proposals. I bought one that was suggested to me: Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon.

After working on the proposal for a few months I decided, as this was the first book proposal I’d ever written, I wanted some professional input. I chose to take Jen and Kerry’s proposal workshop and after that, used their individual review service. They helped me edit and hone it.

I was finally ready to submit a proposal. In spite of getting cards from each of the agents, I still needed to check their agency websites for particulars. Some require you to use a central mailbox as opposed to the individual agent’s e-mail address. Some want one sample chapter, some more. Always put the name of the conference and the agent’s name in the subject header.

I sent out six query letters. In addition to the one offer of representation, I received three rejections, one non-response and another acknowledgement of receipt that arrived after I signed my representation agreement. Before I sent out the next four, I got an offer, so I never pursued them. I took notes from the responses to my pitch and used them in each query. Here is the query I sent to John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich on May 14th:

Dear John Rudolph,

Thanks very much for requesting my book proposal and sample chapters at the Willamette Writers Conference last August. My book is titled Hit It! The Secret World and Public Life of Jerry Nolan: A Drummer’s Story, Before, During and After Punk Rock. In my notes from the conference, I wrote that you were interested in music and non-fiction. If that is still the case, my book should continue to be of interest to you.

Coming out of rough-and-tumble New York in the 1970s, Jerry Nolan played drums for two of the most influential and infamous bands of their time: The New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers. He was one of the driving forces and most memorable characters of both the American and British Punk Rock movement. Told as an oral history, HIT IT! features more than 100 new interviews, including Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame legends like the Sex Pistol’s Glen Matlock, Blondie’s Clem Burke and Talking Heads’ Tina Weymouth. Unlike other books on Punk Rock, HIT IT! examines both the New York and London Punk scenes from their earliest days, and lays out Jerry’s important contributions, both musically and stylistically.

Those who knew Jerry say he had what it took to be a star, and his resume showed it, spending time in bands with Bette Midler, Suzi Quatro, and Punk icon Sid Vicious. Sadly, his battles with heroin stymied his career and caused him to contract HIV, ultimately ending his life at the age of 45. He is remembered as a cross between a Martin Scorsese film character and legendary Jazz drummer Gene Krupa: a stylish, wisecracking raconteur, with a streetwise charm and powerhouse drumming skills. But there was a destructive streak behind his attractive veneer that manifested in his prodigious drug use, ability to scam for “chump change,” lying to promoters and managers, or stealing from the women who loved him. Jerry was a walking contradiction: one part loyal, trusted friend and mama’s boy, another part duplicitous, junkie thief.

I knew many of the people involved in Jerry’s life and saw him play numerous times. During the 1980s, I drummed with major label artists including the Rockats and Beat Rodeo, with members of the Violent Femmes and B-52’s, and on recordings produced by Richard Gottherer (Go-Go’s, Blondie), Mike Thorne (Soft Cell, ‘Til Tuesday) and Scott Litt (REM, Nirvana). Transitioning to television in 1992, I joined the award-winning Seattle PBS affiliate KCTS, where, as Unit Manager, I worked on international productions as diverse as Perilous Fight: America’s Second World War in Color, The ACLU: A History, and Vaudeville: An American Masters Special. I have also written for Classic Drummer Magazine and guest DJ for original New York Doll Sylvain Sylvain’s “Rampage of Songs” web page.

I believe that HIT IT! would strongly appeal to male readers, aged 40-70, with an interest in the music of this era. At this time, I am also approaching other agents who have requested proposals.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Curt Weiss
Phone number
e-mail address
www.curtweiss.com

John responded on May 16th by asking for a different chapter, one with more “big names.” I sent it and he offered me representation on May 23rd. By May 27th, we had a signed agreement.

A proposal is not something you’re going to write in a weekend. It took me from August 2013 until May of 2014 to complete a proposal that I was happy enough with it to submit it to prospective agents. If you’re like most people you probably have a job, kids, aging parents, a lawn that needs mowing, etc. All of those things need to be attended to while you write and research your proposal. It’s hard work and it takes time. Not only do you need to convince someone that your book idea is great, but you have to present potential audience and market data, a promotion plan, a bio and, particularly if your book is non-fiction, establish yourself as a credible expert on your subject. You may also need to set up a website, blog and or Facebook page to establish your “platform:” how will you stand above the crowd? And of course, a sample chapter…or chapters. That’s many months of work. Just keep your eyes on the prize and keep at it.

What surprised you during the querying process?
Trying to settle on a format. There are so many to choose from and I kept finding conflicting info on the web: statements made about what the right format is, with examples contrary to the formula. Look for examples of a successful query in your genre and start there.

What’s the next step toward publication?
Working with my agent to get him the proposal that he’s happy with. Every agency has a format they like. It’ll probably be somewhat different from what your workshop suggested, which is different from what the book suggested. Your agent is your sales person. Give them the tools they need to make the sale. Grit your teeth and do what they say. I’m on version four. Still gritting my teeth!

For more on Curt, check out his website at curtweiss.com.

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New Author Success Story: Joe Guppy

lo res JG smileYESIn 1979, 23-year-old Joe Guppy was struggling with a bad breakup and existential angst, but a few stomach pills drove him into paranoid psychosis… and straight into a mental ward. He shares his story in My Fluorescent God, a raw, often comic memoir that’s a powerful spiritual and psychological adventure. He’ll be reading from this newly published memoir at Elliott Bay Book Company at 7pm on September 13.

But first, we caught up with the Seattle native, an award-winning writer and performer turned psychotherapist turned author, who shared with us his struggles and successes on the road to publication, as well as some sage advice for aspiring authors.

Tell us about your path to publication.
lo res lMFGcover 3I had had a lot of experience in journalism and writing for theater and television, but I had never written memoir before and knew nothing about the publishing business. My Fluorescent God was a “from the ground up” project. I was lucky to have deep archives for the project, all the medical records from my time in the mental hospital, my own and my mother’s thirty-year-old journals, even a taped interview from 1979 with my psychiatrist and some fellow patients. But I not only had to write the memoir, but also learn how to write a memoir. When it came time to seek a publisher, Jen & Kerry’s class showed me how to get a book proposal together. I started out with the traditional route, discovered Query Tracker, and collected plenty of agent rejections. I ended up landing with a local independent Seattle publisher, Booktrope. It’s definitely not self-publishing but I have had to do more work on the publishing side than a mainstream author. The trade-off is I’ve had a lot more control. As a control freak, I like that. I am very pleased with the quality of the finished product.

Why were you inspired to write this book?
This 1979 journey through delusional psychosis was the most traumatic and most meaningful event of my young adulthood. As a writer, I had known from the moment I recovered that I wanted to write about it someday. I didn’t know it would take me thirty years to get to the project or that the experience of writing it would be so personal and profound.

What professional services did you seek out in the process?
My cover designer had designed the Joe and Nancy Guppy annual comedic Christmas cards for years. I didn’t know if he’d be right for this more serious subject matter, but he nailed it on his first attempt. I love the cover. I’ve worked with two different editors, a couple years apart. The first editor, who had written her own terrific memoir, functioned more as a teacher. By the time I got the second editor, Seattle’s own Karin Snelson, I was able to collaborate head to head. We got into some wonderful and intense literary struggles, which resulted in the book being the lean, crisp, page-turner it turned out to be. Jen & Kerry started me on my road to publishing. The book proposal, and the ability to think in marketing terms—which came out of their class—was crucial.

What surprised you during the publishing process?
The amount of detail work in book design. Page headers, table of contents, placement of graphics, font choice. It’s seemingly never-ending. I’ll never look at books the same way again.

What’s been the best moment/aspect about getting published?
The reaction from readers. The most common comment is that the narrative draws the reader deep into the mind and the experience of a mentally ill person. And people often add that, while my story is fairly extreme, all humans have been there to some degree, and we all fear falling into that place of insanity. Above all, I want to engender more empathy and understanding for mental illness. No one should be dismissed or ignored as “crazy.”

What one piece of advice would you offer to burgeoning authors?
You need to be a bulldog. A bulldog with wings.

What’s next for you?
My wife Nancy and I have a project going, a comedic look at long-term marriage. Right now, I’m too swamped in marketing My Fluorescent God to think much about that.

 •••

Look for interviews with Joe later this month on KUOW-FM, on the Seattle Channel’s Seattle Voices with Eric Liu, and on KING-TV’s New Day Northwest. He’ll be speaking at the “Psychology for the Other” conference at Seattle University the weekend of November 7th. Read more about Joe and Nancy in this Seattle Magazine article.

Find out more about Joe, My Fluorescent God, and upcoming events at joeguppywriter.com and joeguppy.com.

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9 Tips for a Successful Author Event

426181_10152171755160072_1622044668_nWhile you might be in the process of writing your book and haven’t gotten to the stage of publishing, let alone promoting, it, it’s important to think creatively about bookstore events and author readings from the get-go. (We thought this was a great take on the challenges of author readings.) Fresh off the promotion merry-go-round for Things I Want to Punch in the Face (Prospect Park Books), Jen shares some tips that ensured that her events were well-attended and more fun than a bag of kittens.

  1. Make it inclusive. We went to an event by YA author Kevin Emerson. To kick off The Lost Code, the first book in his rad dystopian camp trilogy, he created a camp theme for the evening, reading actual letters he wrote from camp as a kid and inviting other writers to share their letters from camp. Jen did something similar, asking her friends to write their own Punch in the Face rant to share—with feeling—at the author reading, and played a game with three contestants from each audience. These Punch Parties were a blast for everyone involved and felt like an open mic night or literary salon. What’s not to like? And as an added bonus, involving others in your event ensures that you won’t get dry mouth or performance anxiety from being the only one talking.
  2. Get in on group events. Much like tip 1, seeking out opportunities for author panels or roundtable discussions is a surefire way to have a successful event. Jen participated in an author lunch, acting as MC and introducing four other respected authors, including the magnificent Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler). She also read a Punch in the Face-themed essay during a Lit Crawl around Seattle, part of a Funny Ladies evening with three other hilarious writers. With a group event, its success doesn’t lie solely on your shoulders. In addition to you, several other participants will be promoting the event, inviting their friends, and working to draw a big crowd.
  3. Help your venue help you. Don’t assume that bookstore and venues are as together as you when it comes to promotion and social media. After all, you know your book and your vision for the event better than anyone. Jen ran around town, delivering foam core signs in advance of each Punch Party and brainstormed with the event coordinators about the various details of the event—including AV needs, chairs, window displays, snacks, number of copies to have on hand, etc. She sent promotional tweets and blog posts for the stores to use to advertise the event. If you can be prepared and thorough, the venue will thank you—and ask you back.
  4. Timing is everything. Think about the best time for optimal attendance. Is there an artwalk one night a month in your neighborhood? If so, coordinate your event for the same evening and have wine or snacks on hand to draw people in. Jen planned her Punch Parties for weekend evenings so attendees could kick off the night at the event and then go out on the town afterwards. A Friday night event at a strip mall bookstore, however, wasn’t as big of a draw. In retrospect, that was totally understandable.
  5. Make attendees feel part of cool kids’ club. Kevin Emerson had people list their camp nickname on a nametag for his Lost Code event. Jen had stickers that said “Things I Want to Punch in the Face” with lines under it so attendees could wear their beefs loud and proud on the lapel. These were a huge hit. While nametags may not be the right tone for your book, think about how you can involve your audience and make them feel part of the event.
  6. Don’t be proud. In addition to promoting the events with the bookstore, Jen handed out postcards to coworkers, friends, and random people on the street. She sent sincere Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail appeals to her friends, asking them to help spread the word, that the success of the blog-turned-book was entirely due to word of mouth by her supporters. Humility, appreciation, and shared success go a long way.
  7. Post in local media. Jen used social media, of course, listing events on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In, and asking people to repost or retweet the information. But she went a step further. While bookstores and your publisher generally send event listings to local papers, magazines, and websites, you can do this yourself to ensure placement. She also reached out to reporters and writers she knew and told them about the events; this paid off with more than one mention in print and online.
  8. Seek out target-rich environments (i.e. industry events). Yes, you want to get books into the hands of readers. But that means getting them into the eager mitts of booksellers first. Work with your publisher (or if self-publishing, set aside marketing funds) to attend regional trade shows and conferences. During the course of her promotional tour, Jen signed books for booksellers and librarians at BookExpo America, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association nightcapper, and the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association author feast and trade show. Win over these people and they will handsell your book in their stores.
  9. Think outside the box (or bookstore). Finally, think beyond the bookstore. When Kerry promoted her book, Good Drinks for Bad Days, she did a cocktail demo at a local kitchen goods store during a neighborhood “Moms’ Night Out” event. The turnout was huge. In addition to numerous Punch Parties at local bookstores and even a gastropub (hey, it had a stage and a mic, not to mention a special drink for the event), Jen joined in two shopping events at a high-end boutique in Seattle. The store bought copies and gave them to customers as a gift with purchase during these events. Win-win. Think about the kind of stores or events that bring out customers willing to drop some cash, hopefully on your book!

Find out more information on marketing your book during our all-day intensive workshop, 30 Days to a Winning Book Proposal, on Feb. 9!

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5 Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Author Platform

stage

Are you ready to put yourself in the spotlight? In today’s competitive publishing climate, editors and agents are looking for authors who can sell not only their book idea, but themselves. So when you pitch your book proposal, you want to highlight your terrific writing plus the connections you have to personally help sell and promote the book. Here are some simple ways to start beefing up your author platform.

1. Have a blog—but don’t give away the farm.

If you can maintain a blog, do so. Think about showcasing your writing style and themes related to your book, without quoting it verbatim. Remember, one of the first things an agent does—like it or not—is Google a potential author to check his or her web presence.

2. Offer your services.

Does your book topic lend itself to lectures to nonprofit groups or other outreach into your community? Could you volunteer for an organization that relates to your topic? Might you read your children’s book at libraries or schools, or do a demo of your cookbook recipes for a charity event? All of these simple efforts increase your exposure.

3. Become an expert in your field.

You should know your book topic better than anyone. Sign up for a Google Alert on keywords related to your topic, and stay apprised of any mentions in the media. This works for fiction as well. Does your novel involve performance art, adventure travel, birdwatching, or the Korean music scene? Make sure you’re keeping up with what people are saying on your subject, and you’ll know where to find those folks when your book comes out.

4. Seek out publicity opportunities.

If you’re positioning yourself as an expert on a subject, offer to act like one. Offer to write guest posts on blogs where your future book-buying audience may hang out. Sign up for HARO (Help A Reporter Out), and answer the call when someone needs a quote on your subject. Pitch yourself to local media when you hear they’re doing a story that relates to your book.

5. Dig deep into your background.

Sometimes, we forget how many skills we have or people we know. Spend some quality time thinking of previous job experience, personal connections, and media contacts that might be of interest to a publisher or agent. Keep notes on all this, so you can fold it into your final bio for your proposal.

For more help on your author platform, check out our webinar on the subject, or join us Feb. 9 for our all-day workshop, 30 Days to a Winning Book Proposal, where we cover all aspects of a successful book proposal.

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