Books & Such Literary Management http://www.booksandsuch.com Mon, 31 Aug 2015 19:04:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Marketing Flop and What to Learn from It http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/a-marketing-flop-and-what-to-learn-from-it/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/a-marketing-flop-and-what-to-learn-from-it/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 01:25:41 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=25364 Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Last week on Facebook Wendy “outed” the first car I owned when I was a sweet, petite, high school student. Unlike Wendy’s first car, a perky ’57 MGA convertible, I drove…an Edsel.

Yes, the car with …

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Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Last week on Facebook Wendy “outed” the first car I owned when I was a sweet, petite, high school student. Unlike Wendy’s first car, a perky ’57 MGA convertible, I drove…an Edsel.

Yes, the car with such a bad reputation that, when you look it up in the dictionary, one of its definition is “a poor or unsuccessful product, especially if vigorously promoted.” In my defense, the vehicle was our family’s car until my father purchased a new one and he dumped the embarrassing Edsel on me. I wondered if I could drive into the school parking lot in the dark of night, sleep in the boat-sized car, and then drift into the school building early enough for my classmates not to connect me with the Edsel.

For those who don’t the car’s history, here’s a primer.

The Ford Motor Company created the Edsel amid a muscular marketing campaign, proclaiming it to be an “entirely new kind of car.” The day it was presented to the public, “E Day,” on September 4, 1957, the windows of the dealerships were papered shut. The only way to view the car was to stand in a line that snaked around the block, with a few people admitted at a time. After a massive campaign that included multi-page “teaser” ads in major national magazines, 2.5 million Americans poured into Edsel dealerships.Edsel-450

Much to everyone’s surprise the car looked…average. Like any other car. Except for the silly, horsecollar-shaped front grill.

The car truly was innovative, offering design features never seen before, and some we’ve come to expect in our vehicles today. The massive list included:

  • a rolling-dome speedometer
  • warning lights for such conditions as low oil level, parking brake engaged, and engine overheating
  • push-button Teletouch transmission shifting system in the center of the steering wheel
  • ergonomically designed controls for the driver
  • self-adjusting brakes
  • safety features such as seat belts and child-proof rear door locks that could only be opened with the key

But the public had come to expect something never seen before, startling and beyond imagining. A pancake-flipping, make-your-bed-in-the-morning and drive itself sort of car. The Edsel couldn’t live up to the hype. It was short-lived, from 1957-1960.

What can we learn from the Edsel boondoggle?

One of the most stunning aspects of the Edsel story is that Ford had no idea the car’s sales would be lackluster. Instead, they were anticipating a booming success. They did research on what the public wanted when they started to design the car, but I’ve found no evidence they asked for feedback during the process. Instead, they seem to have made decisions based on what their gut said was right.

For example, they did extensive polling on a name for the car, but when it came down to the final choice, the results were inconclusive so an executive went with “Edsel.” The name of Henry Ford’s son, Edsel is a clunky word, not one that causes the potential purchaser to think about a smooth-riding, debonair car to coast around town in. Even Henry Ford II objected to its use. By the way, some of the other names under consideration were Citation, Corsair, Pacer, and Ranger.

Lesson: Consider what a title or name tells a potential buyer to expect from your product. Make sure the title projects the right image. Survey potential users and then pay attention to what they tell you. Don’t make decisions in a closet and pop out of it with product in hand, never having ascertained if you were assembling the most attractive item possible.

Ford also misjudged what the public would pay for the car. To own the automobile with all the options cost so much that interested buyers, on hearing the price, turned around and walked out of the dealership in search of a more affordable automobile. Ford hadn’t asked the consumer what he would pay for a car with the Edsel’s features.

Lesson: We all know consumers are price sensitive. While the market will bear high prices for significant innovation, the question always is, Will the consumer think he will get his money’s worth with my product?Asking would be a good way to find out.

The Edsel came off the production lines at a time when consumers were thinking about smaller, fuel-efficient cars. The Volkswagen Beetle was gaining in popularity. The Edsel, on the other hand, was a much larger car, required premium gasoline, and was fuel-inefficient. The right car at the wrong time.

Lesson: This one is tricky because, when Ford started to develop the Edsel in 1955, its size and other characteristics were what customers wanted. But it took until 1957 to release the first models. Tastes had changed, and a recession had hit. Perhaps the best lesson we can gain is to assume that a product will need to be adjusted if it takes a long time to produce. Keeping up with changing tastes and being flexible is paramount, especially in our rapidly changing world.

Design oddities also created challenges for the Edsel. The push button transmission confused drivers because it was located where they used to find the car’s horn. The driver who meant to tap his horn could actually ask the car to go in reverse. The station wagon’s rear turn signals were boomerang-shaped and, when seen from a distance, gave the impression the car was turning right rather than left and vice versa. And then there was the odd-shaped front grill design, which people had a lot of fun coming up with ways to describe–a toilet seat and the “O” of an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon, being among them.

Lesson: Always remember that it’s one thing to be innovative, it’s another to be odd. Doing something different for the sake of being different seldom results in something good.

The hype, of course, has to be mentioned as a major fail. Huge amounts of marketing dollars went into a campaign based almost exclusively on promising the extraordinary and on being a teaser campaign.

Lesson: I’m personally weary of the hype promos we see online: Webinar ads promising that, if we attend, we’ll learn the 5 Vital Ways to Kickstart Our Social Media; the Must-Know Secrets to Writing a Bestseller, etc. Stop the hype and make promises you can fulfill.

After examining the reasons the Edsel failed, I think it’s only fair to say that our family owned a 1959 model, and many of the first year’s oddities had been adjusted. It was a great car to drive, and mine happened to be a pretty turquoise. I kind of liked it, just as I would have liked an odd but interesting cousin. I would have been further consoled if my father had let me sell the car when I purchased my spunky red 1964 Ford Mustang. But, no, he had decided to give the Edsel to his sister, who was a car collector. Insult to injury.

What other products can you think of that failed, in part, because they were over-hyped? The Susan B. Anthony coin, for example? How can you be smarter about the book you’re writing or the brand you’re creating, based on the Edsel failure?

TWEETABLES

Lessons learned from a marketing flop. Click to tweet.

Got an innovative idea? Give it the Edsel test. Click to tweet.

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Books in Unusual Places: Marketing Outside of the Box http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/books-in-unusual-places-marketing-outside-of-the-box/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/books-in-unusual-places-marketing-outside-of-the-box/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 07:01:42 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=25379 Blogger: Rachel Kent

FullSizeRenderWhen I was camping up in the Sierra Nevada mountains two weekends ago, I came across a little library outside of the camp host’s camper! I was surprised to see the book cart, but I think it’s …

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Blogger: Rachel Kent

FullSizeRenderWhen I was camping up in the Sierra Nevada mountains two weekends ago, I came across a little library outside of the camp host’s camper! I was surprised to see the book cart, but I think it’s a great idea for a campground. I’ve been on many trips where I run out of books to read and there aren’t many bookstores in wilderness areas.

One of our Books & Such clients, Amy Lively, was recently sent a picture of her book How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird inside of an Amish hardware store. Books can end up in unusual places!

When it comes to marketing a book, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Authors (and publishers) can fall into the trap of doing the same things over and over again. Not thinking creatively about marketing could be limiting the sales and the influence of your book.

Now, I don’t think that heading over to your local Amish hardware store to pitch your project is necessarily the right step for you, but maybe there’s a local coffee shop nearby that would enjoy hosting a local author for a brief reading? It would likely be mutually beneficial. You could do a reading and bring some books to sell and the coffee shop might get more business that night. It doesn’t hurt to go ask and it could be fun!

And maybe your book won’t reach many people at a campground in the California wilderness, but can you think of another unusual place you could send a book or two that might lead to some great exposure for you?

What is the most unusual place you have seen books?

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Be Prepared http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/be-prepared-2/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/be-prepared-2/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 07:01:15 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=25360 Blogger: Mary Keeley

I’ve been pondering the stock market volatility in the past week. One day it looked as if the world was on the verge of the financial collapse being warned of by many prognosticators, and then the next …

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Blogger: Mary Keeley

I’ve been pondering the stock market volatility in the past week. One day it looked as if the world was on the verge of the financial collapse being warned of by many prognosticators, and then the next day brought such a rebound no one could have hoped for nor explain, proving our finite human ability to know all the answers. I couldn’t help but notice the parallels writers face in the publishing life. In both realms it pays to be prepared.

Investors who learn to diversify their investments and monitor world market trends and their daily gains and losses will be in the best position to survive drastic downturns. It’s the best we humans can do. Likewise, unpublished and published authors are wise to learn and adopt similar strategies to weather the cycles in the publishing market. Recent hints of increased fiction sales over last year at this time are hopeful signs. Now is not too early to begin.

Here are a few areas authors can invest in to keep your career moving forward.

Be flexible.

Some debut or triage authors have their sights set only on getting a trade book contract. If you are one of these, consider what would have happened to investors who were interested only in Enron or Eastern Airlines stock. It will correct your perspective.

Case in point. A client has written several historical romance novels. While she waits for publishers to begin acquiring that trade-length genre again, she has not been idle. She eagerly worked on proposals for novella collections and submitted an entry to a publisher’s category romance contest. Her willingness to be flexible has resulted in three contracts. Her name in the bylines will give her author recognition and new readers to her growing tribe.

The strategy involved in being flexible is to submit only to opportunities that are within your chosen trade book genre and that also have the potential for good sales, which you will have to disclose in future book proposals.

Research additional writing opportunities such as submitting articles to publications that are suitable for your genre. Choose online or print publications that have the greatest readership. Also, offer to swap guest post opportunities with other authors who write in your genre.

Whatever you write, make it your best work.

When the market is lackluster, it might be tempting to quickly pump out articles or auditions for category fiction or blog posts. Remember that each submission will be viewed as a sample of your best work. Take time to be sure it is. Enough said.

Keep building.

Lately, I’ve spoken to talented writers who are inclined to set their career aside, so discouraged are they about their hopes of a trade-length contract. If you are likewise tempted, you’re forgetting about what can be done during a waiting season to stay active and be prepared. For example, in some ways the current stagnation in publishing opportunities for fiction is an asset, because it gives authors time (1) to focus on business side of your career by building a stronger platform, dominated by readers, and (2) to continue learning and practicing craft skills in your flexible writing and in your trade-length manuscript.

No one can know the future, but if you keep building your career in these ways, you’ll be as ready as you can be when a door of opportunity swings open.

How would you rate your willingness to engage in alternate writing opportunities while you wait for a traditional publishing contract? Which alternate publishing options have you participated in? Are there other writing options you have used to get published recently?

TWEETABLES:

Writers can do much to be prepared while waiting for a traditional contract, if they’re flexible. Click to Tweet.

Be active and strategic in moving your career forward while you wait for a publishing opportunity. Click to Tweet.

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Use Content Marketing to Grow Your Following http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/content-marketing/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/content-marketing/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 05:00:58 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=25222 Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

I’m always talking with authors about marketing their books and growing their platforms. It’s a challenge for most writers, who are constantly trying to figure out the formula for gathering more fans (i.e. potential book-buyers).

While writers …

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Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

I’m always talking with authors about marketing their books and growing their platforms. It’s a challenge for most writers, who are constantly trying to figure out the formula for gathering more fans (i.e. potential book-buyers).

While writers typically don’t love the idea of marketing their books, ironically they’re more suited to it than many other kinds of business people these days. Why? Because today the #1 strategy for marketing in every kind of business is CONTENT MARKETING.

And what is this newfangled, businessy sounding term?

According to Content Marketing Institute:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. 

In other words: YOU WRITE STUFF.

And who better to write stuff than YOU?

It’s funny, the rest of the advertising-marketing-business world is calling it “creating content” like it’s this brand-new thing they’ve invented. Um, it’s called “writing” and YOU do it every day.

Another way of putting it, also from CMI, is:

…content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.

The key words: communicating without selling.

So to become an expert at content marketing, here is what I want you to do:

Post stuff your readers will love.

By “stuff” I mean “content,” of course: blog posts, Facebook and Twitter posts, newsletter articles, images on Pinterest or Instagram, or videos on YouTube or Periscope. Anyone who is trying to build a following on social media needs to be posting content regularly—at least a couple of times a day. The tricky part is knowing what that content should be.

The key to identifying the kinds of content you should post is in knowing who you are as a writer, and who your audience (generally) is. This is easier for non-fiction writers, who can create an online persona that swirls around the themes of their books.

But even fiction writers can develop a brand and a style so that people have a strong idea of what to expect. You don’t want to be “that girl who is always posting about her books,” but rather, “the one who always has great articles that inspire me (or make me laugh… or educate me…)”

The idea is that when people are accustomed to receiving material from you that they deem valuable in some way—whether it’s informational, inspiring, thought-provoking, or entertaining—they will eventually reward you with their business (i.e. they’ll buy your books).

Fewer than 1 in 10 of your posts should include “selling” language. The rest of your content flows from who your audience is, and the brand or online persona you’ve created.

Focus on your readers’ needs, not your own.

Interestingly, you don’t even have to be the creator of all the content you share. To keep your social media presence dynamic, you’ll want to use “curated content,” a fancy word for “other people’s stuff.” Make sure you’re following people or organizations whose content tends to complement yours, so that when you see an appropriate post, you can easily share it with your followers.

Of course, the problem with using curated content is that when someone clicks your link, they’re leaving and going to someone else’s website. One way to mitigate that is to use Sniply, an online tool that places a banner across the website to which you’re linking, bringing them back to your site. (That may be difficult to understand. Here is an image that shows Steve Laube’s website, to which I posted a link, with my Sniply banner across the bottom. When someone leaves my Facebook page to read Steve’s post, I still have a presence there.)

Example of Sniply

Content marketing should be easier for YOU than for most businesses. After all, you’re already a writer. In fact, companies using content marketing typically report that their #1 challenge is “producing engaging content.” But you’re a writer, so this is right up your alley!

 

Content Marketing Challenges

 

The key in content marketing is that you are engaging your audience. You are in conversation with them through your interesting posts, and they’re coming to expect good things from you. So when you happen to share some news about your new book releasing, or your older book that’s on a promotional sale on Amazon, they’re willing to pay attention because you’re not continually bombarding them with marketing.

So: content marketing. A business-world term for what you already do everyday.

How are you already using content marketing? How do you think you might increase or improve that strategy in the future?

 

TWEETABLES

What is content marketing and how do I use it? Click to Tweet.

Writers are naturals at content marketing. Click to Tweet.

 

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Outrage Fatigue http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/outrage-fatigue/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/outrage-fatigue/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 08:00:20 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=25299 Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Last week my colleague, Rachelle Gardner, blogged about not embarrassing ourselves online.  Wise advice. I’m going to piggyback on her thoughts because just today I’ve counted no less that two dozen cringeworthy posts in my newsfeed.…

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Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Last week my colleague, Rachelle Gardner, blogged about not embarrassing ourselves online.  Wise advice. I’m going to piggyback on her thoughts because just today I’ve counted no less that two dozen cringeworthy posts in my newsfeed.

I have a serious case of outrage fatigue. Facebook posts are filled with outrage. It’s true, many of the issues discussed are worthy of outrage but with some sixteen months of politics and mudslinging ahead of us let me challenge you to follow some wise advice. It comes from Philippians 4:8. Let’s take it apart:

whatever is true: Be careful with your shares and retweets. Is it true? If a story seems too miraculous or too farfetched, take the time to check it out on Snopes.com and other debunking sites. So many well-meaning people end up looking like fools when they post long-debunked urban myths. And news story shares. . . is it a reputable source? Is it opinion or is it true?

whatever is noble: It may be true, but is it something you want connected with your name and with your professional persona? Comments about Josh Duggar or others who’ve famously fallen from grace do nothing but titillate. Those of us suffering outrage fatigue simply cannot stand the huge wave of outrage that we see on the horizon. I think it came to a head for me when my newsfeed began to fill with outrage about Cecil the lion who was killed by a big game hunter. Yes, it was needless and heartbreaking but we read about it for days and days. And then the backlash came– the picture of starving children from the same region with the finger wagging, “People care more about one aged lion than about. . .” There’s precious little any of us can do about any of it but feel somehow guilty.

whatever is right: And by right, we mean righteous, not a specific political stance. :-) I’m of the keep-your-political-views-to-yourself persuasion. Many do not agree and I’ll not judge but just remember, the closer to the election, the more rabidly partisan people become. Do you want to alienate roughly half your readership? Focus on the things that are righteous. The good being done in the world to alleviate suffering. The upstanding. Troubling world situations to help highlight prayer concerns— this too is right.

whatever is pure: We love pure. These are the things that bring tears to our eyes. Things that are purely sweet, purely funny with no evil intended. Children dressed for the first day of school. Weddings. Old folks dancing up a storm. Little faces from around the world. Grandparents and grandchildren. All a breath of pure, clean air.

dreamstime_xs_45558398whatever is lovely: I’m a big fan of lovely. I love it when people post pictures of their gardens, of the beach, of the food they’ve created, of babies. . . Loveliness can lift our spirits. In fact someone did a study of people who look at kitten videos. Do you know it lowered stress and increased happiness? People need to apply the “lovely” yardstick and rethink much that is posted online– bodily functions included. There’s way too much yuck factor and far too many TMI posts to my way of thinking.

whatever is admirable: How we love to hear stories of heroes and people doing admirable things. Let’s continue with tributes to those we love. Causes that are admirable. Concrete ways we can help. So much better than focusing on the snarky, smarmy, ugly, right?

So be prepared. Heartbreaking news continues to release about infanticide. We’ll be hearing more and more about feet of clay, political haranguing, horrible tragedies and evil acts. Just remember—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

So what do you think? Am I just a Pollyanna? Anyone else suffering from outrage fatigue? Do you believe one can actually change another person’s mind politically by arguing online? Does the “whatever principle” apply if your brand is an in-your-face brand? Let’s talk. . .

TWEETABLES:

Whatsoever online things are smarmy, ugly, snarky. Do we want to think on those things? Click to Tweet.

Authors need to watch their online persona. Whatever. Click to Tweet.

Anyone else suffering outrage fatigue? asks @wendylawton. Click to Tweet

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Why Print Books are on the Upswing http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/why-print-books-are-on-the-upswing/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/why-print-books-are-on-the-upswing/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 01:59:05 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=25202 Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

What’s the health status of publishing, based on first quarter reports, which were released in July?

The industry is in stable condition, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) findings. Ebook sales are …

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Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

What’s the health status of publishing, based on first quarter reports, which were released in July?

The industry is in stable condition, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) findings. Ebook sales are down 2.5% for adult books and 36.6% for children’s/young adult. Print books’ revenue is down in every category except for adult paperback books, which are up 8.6% from first quarter 2014 and professional books are up 16.7%.

As AAP summarized its report: “Downloaded audio continued its hot growth streak, with a 33.6% improvement over the same quarter last year.  Physical audio, mass market, paperback and board book formats all experienced growth this quarter as well, while hardback and eBook formats declined.”

We’ve been reading reports about the ebook decline, but what’s up with the increase in audio, paperback books, and board books?

I can see why audio would continue its growth as people use their fancy phones to listen to books while they multitask.

A significant number of extremely popular children’s books are board books this year, including First 100 Words, with more than 195,000 copies sold YTD; Your Baby’s First Word Will be Dada by Jimmy Fallon at 75,000 copies YTD; Goodnight Moon board book at 192,000 copies YTD; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? at 170,000 copies YTD; The Very Hungry Catepillar by Eric Carle at 199,000 YTD, etc. A very good year for board books, both old and new releases.

The stat I find most interesting is the increase in adult paper sales. What’s up with that?

My theory is that a significant contributor to the increase is the popularity of adult coloring books. The trend was kicked off with two coloring books, The Secret Garden and The Enchanted Forest. Good luck finding a copy of either to purchase online or in bookstores. They sell as quickly as they become available. If you aren’t aware of this trend, you can read about it here and here.

I think it’s important for everyone engaged in publishing to pause and ask, as the authors of the articles I linked to above do, what’s the coloring book trend mean for us? I especially appreciated the insights offered by the Flavorwire article, in which the writer pointed out how we tend to “need” our high tech equipment, but then we want to step away from it and engage in artisanal activities–pickling our veggies, making our own cheese–or wine, knitting, woodworking, coloring, etc.

But I think the coloring books are kicking off a book trend as well. I believe we’re on the cusp of the advent of visually-focused books for adults.
Here’s evidence for my pronostication:

  • Take journaling Bibles, for example. Here’s Shanna Noel’s blog post about why she loves her journaling Bible and how she uses it to deepen her appreciation for God’s Word. Journaling Bibles are a scrapbooker’s dream come true! And, if you enjoy coloring, creatively journaling in your wide-margin Bible might be a new way for you to interact with Scripture. Here’s a page from Greta Sutherland‘s journaling Bible:IMG_1070.JPG
  • During a recent trip to a Barnes & Noble store, I was struck by the number of very visual adult books “written” by popular YouTube personalities. A special display showcases the books so the authors’ YouTube groupies can snatch them up.

YouTube stars

 

YouTube writer

 

  • As my mind turned to this upswing in visual books, I read this article on the Top 10 Reads from the Yale Book Publishing Course, which highlights the books suggested by presenters at the course for mid- and senior-level publishing professionals. The second book listed is this visual stunner: The Conference of Birds, a Sufi poem illustrated by Caldecott award-winner and famed children’s illustrator, Peter Sis. Check out some of his illustrations for this adult picture book here. My point? A beautifully visual picture book for adults appeared on the Top 10 list for a course on publishing.

The Conference of the Birds, 5-6

Have you seen other signs of visually-oriented adult print books picking up steam? Tell us about it.

What other directions do you think this trend might go?

TWEETABLES

Why are print books trending up in sales? Click to tweet.

Next book trend: visually-oriented adult books. Click to tweet.

 

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How to face discouragement: Advice from published authors. http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/how-to-face-discouragement-advice-from-published-authors/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/how-to-face-discouragement-advice-from-published-authors/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 07:01:35 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=25307 Blogger: Rachel Kent

I asked some published authors to share with us what they do when they become discouraged in their writing. This happens to everybody, even those who are published!

Multi-published authors still experience rejections and sometimes have heartbreaking …

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Blogger: Rachel Kent

I asked some published authors to share with us what they do when they become discouraged in their writing. This happens to everybody, even those who are published!

Multi-published authors still experience rejections and sometimes have heartbreaking things happen to them–like canceled contracts or books going out-of-print long before they should have. Sometimes an editor is let go from a publishing house when he or she was the person championing the project. There are many ways for an author to become discouraged in his or her writing.

These quotes come from authors who have experienced a hurt or two in their careers, but they didn’t quit. Here’s what they have to say in answer to the question, What keeps you writing when you are faced with discouragement?

“I have been discouraged twice when I received the ‘good news’ that I was getting a multiple book contact only to have it fall through because of a change in publishing direction. When I received the bad news on both accounts, I had a little pity-party, and then (eventually!) I surrendered myself and my writing to God. I knew He had a good plan for my writing… and if doors were closing, then there were perhaps other plans I didn’t know yet. I didn’t let these closed doors keep me from writing. Instead I looked at other areas where I felt God had been speaking to my heart. In both cases God brought different projects to replace the ones I lost…I also learned that this journey isn’t about me. It’s about God and what He’s doing in the world. I also learned that closed doors can be new opportunities to share God in ways I hadn’t thought of before!”

“My passion for story keeps me writing. I cannot not write. To quit is to forgo my purpose in life, and I’ll only do that when the casket is closed. Is it faith in the God who purposed me to write? Or is it the driving passion for story? Or is it both? I think it’s both.”

“Having to pay my bills, for one thing.  :-) But more to the point, I keep writing because it’s my gift/talent from God, and I’m happiest and most content in my relationship with Him when I use it. Been doing so for 35+ years and have never resisted going to my desk to write–regardless of the outcome. Of course I have discouraging days like everyone, but for me, pushing through gets me through!”

“I try to set aside time to sit and listen and journal. It seems this is when the Lord always shows me the big picture and nudges me to the next step. Over the years I’ve ‘heard’ His direction more when I’m silent before Him than in all the long conversations I have with others about my woes.”

“Yesterday I was at a library speaking and a woman, enthralled by how many books I’d published, asked me,'”Can you tell me how you used to get through all those rejections?’  I said, ‘Used to?  I just got a manuscript rejected three different times last week!’  With each point of success, there are new ways to fail, so keep your chin up.  It’s not about avoiding failure. It’s about how you face it.”

“It’s only a book.  Besides, in God’s economy my failures have taught me a lot more than my successes.  Best to just keep pedaling.”

“I’m a writer. That’s what I do. So I keep on writing, no matter the circumstances. The reality is that I can’t not write. As for what gets me back on track when need be? My agent.”

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Building a Strong Legacy http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/building-a-strong-legacy/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/building-a-strong-legacy/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 07:01:45 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=25290 Blogger: Mary Keeley

From time to time I blog about a famous author’s writing journey for the inspiration and tips we can glean. It’s been a while, but today feels like a good time to look at my friend and …

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Blogger: Mary Keeley

From time to time I blog about a famous author’s writing journey for the inspiration and tips we can glean. It’s been a while, but today feels like a good time to look at my friend and client, Marion Stroud. She went home to heaven on August 8, following her second battle with cancer.

I’ve showcased other authors for their examples of perseverance, path to publication, ongoing career, and so on. I could talk about any of these in relation to Marion too, but the one thing that stands out in these first days since she passed away is that she was deliberate in her choices, decisions, and interactions because she was building a legacy.MarionStroud_photo2_A (4)

I miss her. I met her in person only once because she lived in England, but we had many lively conversations via Skype and email. Marion has more than 20 published books to her credit, many of them still in print. Titles such as I love God and My Husband and Loving God but Still Loving You and Knowing Me, Knowing You, as well as Fostering No Illusions, a book for foster parents like herself, give you a taste of her common-sense wit. She had a sparkle in her eye to match it.

I stepped in as her agent for her last two beautifully expressed books of prayers: Dear God, It’s Me and It’s Urgent and It’s Just You and Me, Lord. A tribute to her, posted by her US publisher on the Our Daily Bread Facebook page, received more than 4,000 comments (yes, three zeros). You can view it here.

She touched lives and left a rich legacy of conduct that all of us, writers and professionals in the industry, would do well to model for our own professional and personal legacies. Here are a few of the qualities she exemplified.

Generosity

Marion loved to share her writing skills at conferences. She was mindful of others’ needs, especially spiritual, and the impression her words and deeds would have on them. She would go the extra mile with her publishers and support and pray for other authors whenever possible.

Ability to blend business savvy with grace

Marion was a sharp businesswoman, yet always a lady. I studied how she managed both at the same time. The key is that she never waivered in her awareness that she was an ambassador of Christ. This overruled everything else, even when tested one time, resulting in her material disadvantage.

Kindness…always

There was nothing namby-pamby about Marion. She was prayerfully decisive and intuitive. She had a way of making her point in the most respectful and gracious way. I marveled at a letter she wrote to the publisher of a tiny house in the UK that had been in breach of one of her contracts for some time. Of course, not everyone lives by that high standard, and eventually, I had to step in with more direct language in order to set in motion the necessary remedy. But that’s part of an agent’s job when the situation calls for it. In fact, I wanted to step in earlier, so grievous was the breach, but she wanted to try the kind approach one last time to give the publisher an opportunity to respond in like manner. That’s grace, and I will remember her example.

Focus on the readers

Ministering to her readers was uppermost on Marion’s mind as she wrote her books. It was all about meeting their needs, caring for them. Like all writers, Marion hoped her books would attain high sales, and she watched her numbers closely, but the eternal value for readers was always the motivating force.

How often do you think about the legacy you want to leave for your readers? Your colleagues? Your family? What impresses you about Marion’s example that you want to emulate?

TWEETABLES:

Building a strong legacy as an author. Here are a few qualities to emulate. Click to Tweet.

Learn about building a strong legacy from this author’s example. Click to Tweet.

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Don’t Embarrass Yourself Online http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/dont-embarrass-yourself/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/dont-embarrass-yourself/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 05:00:13 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=25284 Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

Congratulations! An agent or editor is interested in your work. While you’re preparing for your meeting or gathering your proposal and manuscript to send, what do you think they’re doing?

Googling you, of course.

And if you’re …

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Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

Congratulations! An agent or editor is interested in your work. While you’re preparing for your meeting or gathering your proposal and manuscript to send, what do you think they’re doing?

Googling you, of course.

And if you’re a contracted author with an agent and everything… guess who’s following you on social media? Your agent, editor, publicist and others at your publishing house.

Here are a few ways to make sure they won’t find anything that will make them think twice about your suitability as a business partner.

1. Your headshots are professional.  At least they should be professional-looking, and make sure they’re updated every 3-4 years if you’ve changed or aged like the rest of us.

2. Your profiles are updated.  Your LinkedIn profile and “About Me” sections of your Facebook, Twitter, blog and other social sites should be current.

3. You stay true to your brand. You know what you’re about in your online persona, and you stick with it. It can be tempting to venture outside your brand occasionally, but it’s best not to. If your platform is based on ministering to women in the area of the marriage and family, then best not to write scathing opinion pieces about the latest social issues—unless you can tie them directly to your brand.

Tape over mouth4. You’re not all about you. Nobody likes someone who only talks about themselves or their own book, family, ministry or opinions. Mix it up. Share other people’s content that fits your brand. Interact and engage with others.

5. You avoid sharing confidential business matters. The amount of your advance, anything in your publishing contract, proprietary information from your agent or publisher, and the status of your manuscript being shopped by an agent… these are all topics to keep to yourself. You don’t want to get in trouble with anyone or cause harm to your career, and you certainly don’t want to appear so unprofessional.

6. You are careful not to shame, criticize or judge. Your online presence is a place to be your best self, to be accepting, and refuse to allow yourself to get drawn in to a conversation where you publicly condemn another (or a group of others).

7. You’re judicious in sharing extreme social or political opinions. (Unless that is what your brand is about.) This is a sticky one. You want to be “yourself” online as much as possible. Yet if you’re online as a way to create relationships with readers as well as potential business partners (agents, editors) you may need to temper your instinct share your social and political views (unless they’re an important part of your online persona). There’s no need to alienate people who don’t agree with your views, yet might very well love you and your books.

8. You think twice about ranting or venting. Not that you can’t post a rant every now and then, as long as it fits your brand and avoids harshly criticizing others. But I recommend you don’t make venting a regular feature if you’re trying to connect with readers or with the publishing community. Every rant risks losing followers.

The way to avoid embarrassing yourself online is to be yourself — the best version of yourself! Be someone that others would want to work with or learn more about.

Do you disagree with any of my points? Do you have anything to add?

 

TWEETABLES

Be yourself online – the BEST version of yourself! Click to Tweet.

Think twice about ranting on social media – unless that’s part of your brand. Click to Tweet.

 

 

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What Not to Say http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/what-not-to-say/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/what-not-to-say/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 08:00:01 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=25278 Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Plenty of blogs tell you how to approach an agent, what to say and how to say it. Today I’m going to highlight my top ten things not to say when seeking to impress an agent. Here, …

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Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Plenty of blogs tell you how to approach an agent, what to say and how to say it. Today I’m going to highlight my top ten things not to say when seeking to impress an agent. Here, in part, is what not to say to a potential agent:

1. I’ve only been writing for a couple of months and I’ve already got two books completely ready to publish.

2. I can’t spell worth a lick but, hey, that’s what editors are for, right?dreamstime_xs_40199404

3. I’m writing fiction. Romance mostly, but I have written a thriller and I dabbled in Amish. Fortunately, fiction is not my only interest, I have two nonfiction books as well— one on parenting and the other on finance. Oh, yes. I have three picture books I wrote for my grandchildren and am working on a middle grade series.

4. No, I don’t read in my genre at all. I don’t want to inadvertently steal anyone’s ideas.

5. My mother has read and loved all my manuscripts and she can’t wait until they are published so she can give them to her friends.

6. My novel weighs in at about 210,000 words but everyone tells me it so compelling they can’t put it down. After all, Harry Potter was bigger than any book of its genre at the time.

7. I’d love to show you my book but would you mind first signing this non-disclosure document drawn up by my lawyer?

8. I’m not much of a reader. My time is limited and I’d much rather write than read anyway.

9. I’ve discovered things in the Bible that no one has yet uncovered. Theological credentials? No, but I’ve spent my life digging into the Bible.

10. God gave me this book, nearly word for word.

Yes. I’ve heard all of the above and numerous variations of them over the years. I had planned to offer these What-Not-to-Say comments and then explain why they are so cringeworthy to an agent but I decided to let you do the work. Pick one or two (or more) and explain to our readers why they should never ever say them.

TWEETABLES:

What not to say to a potential literary agent. Click to Tweet

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