Tag Archives: marketing

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under Craft a Winning Proposal, Events

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized, Writing/Publishing Tips

Get Published! The lowdown on our writers retreat at Willows Lodge

Willows3We’re thrilled at the early interest in Get Published!, the Business of Books 2nd annual publishing retreat, and we hope you and your book project can join us January 23–24, 2016. The overnight retreat will take place at the beautiful and serene Willows Lodge in Woodinville and features in-depth seminars on specific topics relating to the book business and developing a book proposal. Because of the intimate size, all attendees receive personal attention and direct feedback on their individual projects. The two-day event will cover:

  • All nine elements of a successful book proposal, with hands-on exercises and workshopping that result in a working proposal document by the close of the retreat
  • How to create a targeted book marketing plan and build an author platform
  • Insider intel on the publishing business, including critical do’s and don’ts
  • How to craft an impactful cover letter and develop a targeted submission list

Writers of all genres and levels are welcome. Whether attendees have a glimmer of an idea or a polished draft, our one-of-a-kind immersive workshop will push you to move your book project forward in a significant way—and enlighten you on how the business of publishing really works.

“This retreat gave me exactly what I needed to start getting my writing out into the world,” says 2015 attendee Heather LeRoss. “The combination of insider insights, step-by-step how-to’s and the belief from Jen and Kerry that I could do it, gave me the confidence to put my writing out there and think of myself as an author. Since attending, I’ve had more than 10 articles published and my children’s book is out to publishers for review. Thank you, Jen and Kerry.”

In addition to luxurious accommodations, guests will receive a welcome amenity, meals courtesy of the renowned Barking Frog, and all workshops, as well as our exclusive Publishing Toolkit (a $99 value) to take home.

Book early! Through December 15, earlybird pricing for “Get Published!” starts at $870 per person including tax and is based on double occupancy. Complete details can be viewed on the Willows Lodge website here. After December 15, prices increase $100 per person. To make reservations, please contact Shaina Phillips at 425-424-2965 or shaina.phillips@willowslodge.com.  

4 Comments

Filed under Business of Books events, Events

6 Ways to Effectively Crowdfund Your Book

As more and more authors are turning to crowdfunding to bring their book project to market, we asked Justine Schofield, development director of Pubslush, a global pre-publication platform, to offer some tips on how to make the most of this resource.

Pubslush-LOGOCrowdfunding is a tool that authors now use to raise funds, collect pre-orders and market their book before publication. The number of authors, both self-publishing and established, who want to create a more personal connection with their audiences is rising and crowdfunding is the perfect solution to create and foster this connection between authors and readers.

Deciding to crowdfund your book is a big decision. Crowdfunding is not an easy task and it takes serious commitment to conduct a successful campaign, but luckily there are a lot of resources available to help authors throughout the process. For starters, here are some ways to make sure you get everything that you need out of your crowdfunding campaign, and then some.

  1. Create a marketing plan.
    This can be seen as the starting point for your campaign that will outline your plan of attack. Research and establish who it is that you will reach out to about your campaign, how to get in touch with them and when you will do so. Developing a marketing plan takes a lot of research and planning, but it makes effective crowdfunding not only more attainable but also more manageable. You should be able to refer to your plan throughout the campaign as a guideline and reference point.
  2. Research other successful campaigns.
    Check out campaigns that have already had success. See what they are doing that seems effective to you and notice what you don’t like so you can avoid or improve these points on your own campaign. It also never hurts to reach out to those who have already had success. Generally, people are very open to sharing their crowdfunding experiences.
  3. Create really amazing and enticing rewards.
    To effectively crowdfund your book, you have to offer rewards that will make supporters want to pledge their financial support. Again, research other successful campaigns to see what they offered their supporters. Although offering a copy of the book is always a great reward (hello pre-orders!), authors have the opportunity to create other rewards that supporters will love. Reward levels are your chance to get creative and generally, the more creative, the better!
  4. Secure “inner circle” supporters that will pledge to your campaign right away to kick it off.
    Before the campaign even starts, you should secure your “inner circle,” (mom, dad, grandma, your best friend…you get it) to pledge to your campaign as soon as it starts. This way your campaign funding will be boosted above $0 and other people will see that there’s interest in your campaign out of the gate. This is an essential way to build your momentum on the first day of your campaign.
  5. Execute your marketing plan.
    You’ve already carefully constructed your marketing plan and now it’s time to make it happen. It’s best to build your base of supporters from your own network before branching out. People in your own network are more likely to support you while your numbers may still be low. However, once you build momentum from your own network, other people in your targeted audience will see that your fan base (and book) is really impressive and will want to join in the movement.
  6. Thank supporters and provide updates during and after the campaign.
    One of the keys to successful crowdfunding is staying in touch with your audience and keeping them informed. During the campaign, you should be thanking supporters as they pledge and asking them to spread the word to their network as well. It’s also a nice touch to send out a newsletter or email that highlights the activity and success of the campaign. After the campaign, thank supporters again for their contributions and keep them updated on the progress of the project and the fulfillment of the rewards. Showing appreciation and communicating is necessary when you are trying to build a large and loyal fan base for your book.

Crowdfunding can be really rewarding and effective when one puts thought, time, and effort into it. With these tips and a dedicated state of mind, effectively crowdfunding your book is definitely attainable.

Justine Schofield is the development director of Pubslush, a global pre-publication platform that allows authors and publishers to raise funds, collect pre-orders and tangibly market their upcoming book project. A writer at heart, Justine has received her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. She has become a prominent voice in the publishing industry and an advocate for educating authors and publishers about crowdfunding. She has contributed to IBPA’s Independent magazine, Self-Publishers Monthly, Book Marketing Magazine, Business Banter and many more online publications. She tweets for @pubslush.Connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing/Publishing Tips

New Author Success Story: Judith Gille, The View from Casa Chepito

JudithWe are pleased as punch that in 2013, several Business of Books clients realized their dreams of getting their books finished—and published! To celebrate those accomplishments, we’re launching a series of success stories. We’ll profile these first-time authors, tell you about their projects, and share the ups and downs they experienced on their path to publication. We hope you’ll find inspiration and motivation in their stories. (In 2014, we’d like to profile you and your book! Let us know how we can help you get the job done.)

Our first profile is Judith Gille, who recently published The View from Casa Chepitos. This memoir, set in Mexico, puts a human face on the immigration debate and explores issues faced by women of all cultures and ages. The elevator pitch? Think Eat, Pray, Love on Mexican Time. It’s a formula that’s resonated with readers, garnering Judith gratifying reviews and a #9 spot on the Elliott Bay Books’ best-seller list, as well as the Grand Prize in Writer’s Digest’s Self-Published e-Book Awards. You can meet Judith in person at her reading this Sunday, January 12, at 5:30pm at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.

Here’s what Judith has to say about the process and her book.

Casa Cover jpg imgTell us about your path to publication and the reasons behind it.
I wrote a lot when I was younger. I had essays and articles appear in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News, the Florida Sun-Sentinel, in magazines, online literary journals and anthologies. But after I started City People’s [the beloved Seattle mercantile and garden stores] and having kids, I no longer found time to write. But the urge to express myself through words was always there. Then, in 2006, I attended a reading by Tony Cohan (On Mexican Time and Mexican Days) in San Miguel. Afterwards I asked if he ever taught classes and he told me about Book Passage’s Travel Writer’s Conference in Corte Madera, CA. I signed up for the conference. I met a bunch of travel editors there, and was soon writing articles about Mexico. I came to realize that writing longer narratives was more interesting than how-to travel pieces for a newspaper industry that was on life support. So I began writing sketches about the people who live on callejón de Chepito, the Mexican alleyway where I live part-time.

Why were you inspired to write this book?
I’ve heard a number of writers say that they experienced an “Aha!” moment that prompted them to write their books. It was like that for me, too. On a train trip into Mexico’s Copper Canyon, I contracted salmonella poisoning and became extremely ill. One night, in a semi-hallucinatory, feverish state, it suddenly dawned on me that the essays I’d been writing about my neighbors on the alley were meant to be a book. I just needed to learn how to write it…

What professional services did you seek out in the process?
Originally I’d hoped to publish the book through a traditional publisher. I honed my first 50 pages, worked hard on my book proposal and hired Jen and Kerry (who did a terrific job) to edit it. I then submitted it to a dozen agents. I got lots of positive feedback about the themes, the quality of the writing, and the story, but they were uniformly dismayed that I didn’t have a well-developed platform. Without it, they said it would be a hard sell to a publishing house.  I decided to form my own small press and publish the book independently. Self-publishing, at least in part, has gotten a bad rap because many books are not well-edited or designed and the product values are poor. I was determined to create a top-quality product that readers and book buyers would have a hard time distinguishing from a more traditionally published book.

What surprised you during the publishing process?
My husband was in the printing and publishing industry for 20-some years, so there wasn’t much that surprised us about the process. We decided to produce the book through Lightning Source and ordered 1,500 copies (which they had to print twice because during the first run, the press operator fell asleep and the books were all misaligned). The challenging part, however, has been distribution. Currently the books are only in a dozen bookstores in Western Washington and San Miguel de Allende, but they’re selling so fast that I need to restock the stores frequently. Bookstores don’t always pay attention to whether your book has sold down or is out of stock, so you have to keep track yourself. Ideally, we hope to partner with a larger distributor or publishing house for fulfillment.

What’s been the best moment or aspect about getting published?
The overwhelmingly positive response to the book has been astonishing. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get an email or a hit on FB, or someone comes into the store to tell me how much they loved it. In only five weeks, it jumped to the #9 spot on Elliott Bay’s best-seller list.

I’ve been surprised by how many readers tell me they couldn’t put it down, or who read it in one or two days (it’s 310 pages, for god’s sake!), or how sad they were when it ended. A few people even said they immediately started reading it all over again! I’m just so grateful that the story resonates with readers and that people are rooting for Lupe and Juan’s success in life because achieving a fair immigration policy toward migrant workers is so important right now.

What one piece of advice would you offer to burgeoning authors?
Be a stickler for quality. Write the best book you possibly can, then find a good editor to help you fine tune it. Hire an experienced book designer (unless you have those skills yourself), insist that the printer does a top-notch job. If you want to pitch to an agent or publisher, use Jen and Kerry to help you produce a professional pitch and book proposal. And as Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never give up.” The best advice I can offer is to be persistent. Even when it seemed hopeless, and the horrible nagging voice in my head kept telling me that my story sucked and nobody would want to read it, I kept plugging away because I believed in the importance of my story.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently visiting with a lot of women’s book groups and before the evening ends, I inevitably get asked when my next book is coming out and what it’s about. I’ve got at least two more books I want to write. The first follows the story of a young Mexican woman named Vicky. It continues with life on callejón de Chepito, but deals with the changing role of women in Mexico, and Mexico’s burgeoning feminist movement. The second book is a novel that takes place in a remote part of Lake Huron and is based on a true story that my grandmother was fond of recounting, about a young woman who was ostensibly kidnapped by a hermit.

Any upcoming book events?
My next reading is on Sunday, January 12th at 5:30pm at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. Seattle photographer Lesley Burvill-Holmes will be joining me to show her lovely photographs of sunny San Miguel de Miguel and my neighbors from callejón de Chepito.

4 Comments

Filed under Success Stories, Success Stories & Testimonials, Writing/Publishing Tips

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!

1 Comment

Filed under Writing/Publishing Tips

Build Your Author Platform & Marketing Plan with Our New Webinar

As working authors, both of us know the increasing importance of a strong author platform and creative marketing plan. When we were publishing executives, we sat in lengthy acquisitions meetings and debated the merits of proposal submissions. Even then, questions arose with nearly every proposal about the author and the marketability of the book.

  • Who is this person?
  • Why is he/she an expert on this subject?
  • Is the author going to be able to sell books?
  • Does he/she have any public speaking experience?
  • How are we going to get the word out about this title?

The questions, like the meetings, went on longer than they should. But they were valid and they still are. In today’s volatile, evolving marketplace, it’s critical that you know how to sell yourself and your book—both to the publisher and to the end reader. In our webinar, Sell Your Book—And Yourself!, we help you build your author bio from the ground up, taking into account the obvious and unexpected details of your professional and personal life. We share our secrets on how to build a compelling and robust platform, starting immediately. And we open your mind to brainstorming all the ways that you can market, publicize, and promote your book, no matter its genre. Register now for this $79 webinar and start strengthening your publishing position, right this minute.

(photo: busygourmand.com)

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Webinar