Thursday, July 29, 2010

Verses for Writer's

Dianne Butt's favorite Bible verse for writers:

“Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it...”

2 Corinthians 8:11, NIV

Diane writes a very helpful e-zine for writers. You can subscribe at:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Is Social Media Right For Your Book?

The following is an interesting article about effective book promotion from Reader Views newsletter.

by Irene Watson

I'm inundated with e-mails, newsletters, and tweets telling me "they" can help me climb the social media ladder and get high rankings, increased sales, and who knows what else. Let's face it, social media is over-hyped and many are attempting to make bucks for themselves as experts without concrete results for the authors. I also see many authors state they have launched a social media campaign because they have a Facebook page or are using Twitter. Unfortunately this isn't a social media campaign.

To have a social media campaign you must:
set a goal
develop a plan
identify tactics
execute the plan.

Deciding whether or not social media is right for selling your book is simple:
1. Accept that social media is over-hyped and it's not the silver lining that will get your book to the NYT Best Sellers List. It's very possible it will not make the list so accept it, or buy into it.
2. Recognize social media is only one marketing tool in sea of others. I've listed only a few examples below.
3. Decide whether or not your book is right for a social media campaign. It could be all your "friends" on your Facebook list already have the book or aren't interested in it. Or maybe your book isn't relevant at this time. As well, avoid spamming your friends. If they want the book, they will buy it after one or two invitations to do so.
4. Acknowledge that your book may not have social media appeal because you are an unknown author. You're not Dan Browne so you'll have to work 100 times harder on your campaign than his publicist would.
5. Understand that for social media you have to use the same business models as you would for any business: branding, research, reader retention, e-commerce, and generating leads. (See article on landing pages.) If you have a product for sale (your book) you have a business. Treat it like a business.
6. Realize social media isn't free. What? It's free to sign up on Facebook and Twitter. But, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about top-notch website/landing page and your time. Yes, you need to get paid for the work you do. Oh gosh, I almost forgot; Your Book Must Be Top-Notch. That means professionally edited, good character development and plot, is relevant and you must have credibility.
7. Be aware it takes more than 10 minutes a day to execute a successful social media campaign. Many experts tell you all you need to do is spend a few minutes and post on Twitter and Facebook daily or several times a day. Wrong. If you do that, that's all you're doing -posting on Twitter and Facebook and it's not moving the dial on the who-gives-a-crap meter.

Examples of social media tools:
Remember, there are many social media tools available so you aren't bound by just using Facebook or Twitter. Some others are:
MySpace - great for targeting the younger crowd.
Linkedin- more professional and business like than Facebook
Flickr - it's a good place for uploading photos of your book launch
Podcasting - needs to be relevant to your book but not a blatant advertisement for your book
YouTube - a place to upload your book video to. It's the second highest search engine.
HowCast - great place to post your "how-to" video
TubeMogul - upload your book video once and they distribute to other video sharing sites
Google Alerts - plug in key words pertaining to your book and you'll be alerted what blogs are commenting on that topic. You can then post a response leading back to your landing page. (However, don't spam your book!)
Blog - Have one. But, only if you are willing to post an article three or four times per week.
Articles - Write articles and post them on article sites.

These are just a few tactics that can be used effectively in your social media campaign. If you Google "Social Media Tools" you'll become exposed to hundreds of them. Do research and decide for yourself whether or not social media will actually bring sales of your book. One more reminder (I know, I keep harping on this!!) anything you do to market your book has to move the dial on the who-gives-a-crap meter of the potential reader. (And, that doesn't mean Mom, cuz Joe, or Aunt Mae - it means someone that doesn't know you.)

Source: Reader Views by Irene Watson

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's a Roller Coaster Ride!

I just adore author Terri Blackstock, don't you? I mean, even before she graciously shared a fistful of marvelous tips for our book, Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers, I fevorishly devoured every one of her novels and craved more.

Imagine my surprise when I recently got to the end of Terri's wonderful suspense novel, Double Minds, and found an afterword that seemed to be meant especially for me and well, ... and you!

I'd like to share an excerpt with you, fellow aspiring writer. When you get discouraged in the midst of your writing cycle that sometimes seems to lead nowhere, be encouraged. Even giants like bestselling Terri Blackstock experience the same thing.

Here's Terri Blackstock on the writing life:

"I think one of the things unique to the writer's life is that we do seem to be on a roller coaster. I finish a book! Hoorah! Everything's wonderful. Then I send it off and wait. Time passes. My spirts plungs. It's the worst thing I've ever written. Why, oh why did I send it when I did? I start scouring the newspaper for real jobs. Then I get the call."

"They Love it and are really goingt o publish it. Yes! Life is grand! Woo-Hoo!"

"Then I get the revision letter. It's horrible. They want me to rewrite the whole book, change the title, and think about a pesudonym. They hate the plot and think the wrong characters die. Oh, they want me to add a dog and a baby. "

"I plunge again as I try to pick up the pieces that are salvageable. But then it occurs to me how it can be done, and hey, that dog really does add to the suspense, and the baby will be worth a few boxes of tissue, so yahoo, I'm up again as I send it off."

"But then I can't pay my light bill, and the checks are starting to bounce, and that check from the publisher never comes. So I plunge again."

"Finally, I get paid and dance around singing, 'I'm in the money!' Then I write a check to Uncle Sam, pay that late light bill, my late insurance premium, and wonder how I'm going to make it on what's left over until the next check. "

"Spirits take another dive."

"That's the writing life. But I love the roller coaster. It's the ride God gave me, and doing it for the Kingdom of God is a privilege."

Well said, Terri. You're one of my heros.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Advance Celebration

What fun to receive a nice juicy advance check this week for my book Too Stressed to Stay Stressed! It's like a big hug from Papa God - affirmation of my calling to write and acknowledgement of the hard work and supernatural grace to get to this point.

Ephesians 3:20 throbs in my brain: "To Him who is able to do EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY BEYOND all athat we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to HIM be the glory... forever and ever. Amen."

I'll take this opportunity to clear up a few misconceptions I've heard from aspiring writers about advances and royalties.

First of all, there is no free money in the publishing biz. You're expected to earn every penny you make from book sales. Royalties are the percentage you're contracted to make when each book sells (e.g. 10% royalty on a $10 book nets you $1). The advance is simply the publisher issuing you the royalties they anticipate from your first few months of sales in advance (hence the name).

If by some chance you don't earn out your advance (for instance they pay you $5k and your sales only bring in $3k), some contracts require you to repay the remainder. Others don't. Be sure you read the fine print before signing.

Advances are a rather prestigious thing within the industry - 5 and 6-digit advances demonstrate that in the eyes of the biz, you've really made it. Of course agents like large advances because they make a tidy little bundle up front. If I had my druthers as an ignorant author, I'd prefer low or even no advance, so I don't have to worry about earning it out. But that's just me and I don't say it out loud to avoid being stoned.

Publishers aren't stupid, so they rarely offer new or not-thoroughly-proven authors more than 3-5k advance (although there are exceptions), which means the book needs to sell at least 10k copies to earn out the advance and start collecting royalties. Some books never quite get to this point, making it unlikely the author will be offered a contract from that particular publisher again any time soon.

Most authors who have been there & done that warn newbies NOT to go out spending the advance in rampant jubilant celebration. I found this to be good advice with my first few books - I socked the entire check away and then was able to splurge on book-related purchases that really count for my literary future: a new printer, decent office furniture so I don't fling out of my swivel chair any more and most importantly, book promotion.

Yep, dear friend, book promotion takes $$$: Travel to book and speaking events, TV interviews, motels at times (sometimes these are covered by the host and sometimes they're not), decent clothes to attempt to look succesful, giving out free copies to important sources after the promo copies have run out, and most importantly, hiring a publicist or PR team to create the biggest book splash possible.

So put that Mediterranean cruise on hold when you receive your first advance. There will always time to sail after your 5th (or 50th) successful book!