Books & Such Literary Management http://www.booksandsuch.com Mon, 08 Feb 2016 02:30:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 One Thing Every Writer Needs http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/one-thing-every-writer-needs/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/one-thing-every-writer-needs/#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2016 02:30:28 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=26450 Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Seldom can we boil down our needs to one thing, but in the case of a writer, I’ve been thinking that without this one thing, a writer is nothing.

Every writer needs belief.

I was …

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Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Seldom can we boil down our needs to one thing, but in the case of a writer, I’ve been thinking that without this one thing, a writer is nothing.

Every writer needs belief.

I was reminded of this imperative the other day when one of my clients, on hearing that a publisher had serious interest in his manuscript, replied, “They like my writing!?”

I, as the agent, was lost in the euphoria of a sale, of a published book, of moving a career forward, but the writer heard affirmation, belief in his writing.

For a writer, belief resides in:

  1. Oneself. Without the nudging sense that you are able to be coherent and maybe even articulate on paper, you wouldn’t even try to write a book. The germ of an idea isn’t enough to urge you on; kayakingit’s belief–regardless how tiny–that causes you to put your fingers to the keys.
  2. Others. Where would a writer be without a spouse, a parent, a teacher, an editor or an agent who said, “I do believe you can write that book”? Well, the answer is, you’d be without a book. That belief often is not only spoken but also acted on. While you’re writing, others try to lighten your load and do without your presence. Through making meals, doing laundry, taking care of the kids, ignoring your 3 a.m. alarm that gets you up to write before beginning a full day of other work, those who believe in you endure you while you write. And listen to your ideas burbling over, read your manuscript, brainstorm titles with you, dream about the day the book is published. What, or what, would you do without others’ belief that you can pull off this massive pouring out of yourself?
  3. Your calling. You know that writing is an expensive task: It requires all of your heart, soul and mind. And it’s not to be undertaken by the faint of heart or the easily discouraged. The ones who thrive best under the heat lamp of the publishing industry are those who believe they are called to write, that they must write, that life would be so much less if they stopped writing.

Yes, belief is the one thing a writer needs. This post is a tribute to each of you who have found belief, the most powerful impetus you could ask for to go forth and create.

Who first believed in you as a writer? What other sources of belief spur you on?

TWEETABLES

What’s the one thing every writer needs? Click to tweet.

Why belief is the one thing every writer needs. Click to tweet.

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Hosting a Book Launch Party Without Breaking the Bank http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/hosting-a-book-launch-party-without-breaking-the-bank/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/hosting-a-book-launch-party-without-breaking-the-bank/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 08:02:56 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=26445 Blogger: Rachel Kent

You have a new book coming out! Hooray! You want to celebrate with friends, family, and fellow book lovers, but you don’t have the money to throw a big party. What can you do?

Some of the …

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Blogger: Rachel Kent

You have a new book coming out! Hooray! You want to celebrate with friends, family, and fellow book lovers, but you don’t have the money to throw a big party. What can you do?

Some of the best launch parties I have been to are done with little or no cost to the author. Typically, a local bookstore is happy to host a book launch event–especially for traditionally published books. All you need to do is call them and talk through the details. They will order your books ahead of time and will even advertise your appearance so that some of their customers might become your new readers. Many bookstores have a snack bar or coffee shop, so food and drinks can be purchased if the attendees are hungry, but you could provide some cookies and lemonade or some other small, free snack to offer during the event. All you would need to do is mix and mingle with your friends and fans, sign books, and offer up a few behind-the-scenes stories from writing or researching the book. You might want to put together a CD of music that relates to your book in some way and ask the bookstore to play it during the party to set the mood. If you have a little bit to spend, you could do a door prize drawing.

If a local bookstore isn’t an option or if they won’t host you, you can always try an independent coffee shop for a meet & greet party. If you are bringing them business, they are likely to say “yes” to hosting you in a corner of their shop. You can let friends, family and fans know that you will be at the shop with books for sale for a couple hours on a specific day and have them come by to see you and celebrate. You could have a bowl of candy or something on the table and some free bookmarks. Just be sure you aren’t offering anything that would compete with what the coffee shop has for sale. The goal is to create a win-win situation for you and your host.

During your party, be sure to collect names and email addresses, too. Maybe for the door prize drawing, you could have your attendees drop in a form that asks for name, email address, and permission to add them to your e-newsletter list. This will help you grow your list and let your attendees know about future books and events.

 

Have you ever been to/hosted a book launch party? What was it like?

Do you think launch parties are beneficial?

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Wisdom and Incremental Goals http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/wisdom-and-incremental-goals/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/wisdom-and-incremental-goals/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 08:01:53 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=26437 Blogger: Mary Keeley

For any author who, at one time or another, has felt as if you’ve used up every creative brain cell and have little left to give toward your writing dream, I have words of wisdom from famous …

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Blogger: Mary Keeley

For any author who, at one time or another, has felt as if you’ve used up every creative brain cell and have little left to give toward your writing dream, I have words of wisdom from famous authors to inspire you. When the road ahead of you feels more like climbing a mountain than coasting down a slope, setting incremental goals will help you apply their wisdom to move forward at a steady pace.

Writer’s block usually is the result of one or more pressures accumulating Incremental Goalsunder the surface. Looming deadlines, keeping up with personal life, problems with the manuscript, and negative feedback or rejections are but a few. These are normal pressures of life that are hard to avoid, but read this sage advice:

“The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.” — Ernest Hemingway

When discouragement and self-doubt slow you to a halt, take comfort in knowing all writers are susceptible to these and then profit from what successful authors have learned:

I can’t write five words but that I change seven.” – Dorothy Parker

“Half my life is an act of revision.” – John Irving

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” – William Faulkner

“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.” – Pearl S. Buck

“If you wait for inspiration to write, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” – Da Poynter

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” – Ray Bradbury

Failing is inevitable on the up and down road of the writing life. How you deal with it makes all the difference. These enduring authors show us how to respond well:

“A wounded deer leaps the highest.” – Emily Dickinson

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.” – Sidney Sheldon

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” – James Joyce

“You fail only if you stop writing.” – Ray Bradbury

What is the challenge you are facing right now? You might not know what God has in mind for your writing, but if you set incremental, reachable goals for the day, next week, and the month, you will reap small successes on the path he has for you.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” — Mark Twain

Because

“It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.” – Isaac Asimov

What challenges are you facing in your writing life today? What will you do to overcome writer’s block or discouragement and failures in the future? Which words of wisdom and incremental goals inspire you most?

TWEETABLE:

Apply the wisdom of timeless authors and use incremental goals to keep your writing progress on track. Click to Tweet.

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When Multiple Agents Are Interested http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/multiple-agents-interested/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/multiple-agents-interested/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 04:17:33 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=26430 Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

A writer asked: If there are two or more agents interested in representing me, how do I make my decision? I’ve heard it can be better in some cases for a less established author to go with

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Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

A writer asked: If there are two or more agents interested in representing me, how do I make my decision? I’ve heard it can be better in some cases for a less established author to go with a younger or newer agent—is this true? What other factors would you consider?

If there are two or more agents interested in your work, you have a pretty good problem on your hands! You should approach this the way you’d approach any situation in which you’re going to “hire” someone. Let them know that you’re deciding between two or more agents. Then find out everything you can about each candidate and decide who seems like a better fit.
 
First, a Conversation
It starts with talking to each of them on the phone. You’ll definitely want to chat, ask questions, and get a general feel for who they are and how they communicate. Find out how they work, who they’d expect to be pitching your project to, and how close they think your manuscript is to being ready to submit. Get a feel for the other clients they represent and what kind of a track record they have for selling books to publishers.

sherlock holmesCheck ’em Out
You’ll also want to do your due diligence in finding out whatever else you can. Read their blogs, websites and Twitter feeds; Google their names to find online interviews or articles; check Facebook to see if they have a page.

Got References?
Some people even like to “check references” by talking to some of the agent’s current clients. Many authors have blogs/websites with contact information and you can write them asking if they’d mind being a reference for the agent.

Newer Isn’t Always Better
Some people advise that a younger or newer agent might be a better fit for a new author, and this can be true, but I don’t think you can make your decision based on a generality like this. Try to choose the person who is the best fit for you.

Don’t Rush
While you may be excited and want to make your decision quickly, I recommend you take your time and do as much investigating as necessary first. You should be able to find out everything you need to know within a few days… then put those agents out of their misery and tell them your decision!

If you were choosing between two or more agents, what qualities would you be looking for?

 

TWEETABLE

What to do when agents are fighting over you. Click to Tweet.
 
Image copyright: ostill / 123RF Stock Photo

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Reading the Market http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/reading-the-market/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/reading-the-market/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 09:00:33 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=26421 Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Anyone out there feeling like a book marketing guru? We often hear from writers that knowing the potential competition for their books is the hardest thing about doing a proposal. But reading the market is an important …

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Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Anyone out there feeling like a book marketing guru? We often hear from writers that knowing the potential competition for their books is the hardest thing about doing a proposal. But reading the market is an important part of writing books that will sell. Here’s why:

  • You need to know where your proposed book will sit on the shelf in a store so that you can fill a need, plug a hole or offer a different voice than everyone else out there.IMG_5784
  • You need to know who else is writing similar novels. For novelists you need to be able to supply readers with comparables. “If you like the books of Jane Doe, you’ll probably like mine.” (And don’t worry that someone else has written something similar. Think of your own reading patterns. When you finish a great medieval historical you don’t want to leave that world. You look around for another great medieval, right?)
  • You need to know who else has recently addressed your nonfiction subject and how they approached it. If Max Lucado just wrote on your subject, you might want to wait awhile before proposing this book. Remember, when someone walks in the bookstore and asks for a book on XYZ, the frontliner is going to immediately think of the A-list book on that subject.
  • Or you need to know if there’s been a recent glut of books on this subject. Publishers will hold off if the category is full.

So. . . agreed, right? Reading the market is essential for authors. But how does one do it? Let me offer a few suggestions:

IMG_4302Read shelves. Spend time in the stores. Pay attention to which books are cover out. How many copies does the store have? All of these tell a tale and help you read the market.

Talk to librarians. Nobody knows books like librarians. Granted, they may not be as current as the market is, but they know what’s out there and they know which books get checked out most.

Talk to Bookstore frontliners. Frontliners are the salespeople who work in the bookstores. They are the ones who direct readers to books. Find out what they know.

Study Goodreads and other online reading apps. There’s much information on the market tucked into these online communities.

Read magazines like Romantic Times. These periodicals are not trade magazines. They go to readers. The reviewers are avid readers.

Spend time on Amazon, Christian Books. These recent resources are pure gold for writers. Not only can they help you in reading the market and knowing what’s out there but they can help you with the “readers who purchased this, have also purchased. . .” comparisons.

Collect anecdotal evidence. This is the fun way. Always ask “Read any good books lately?” “How did you hear about it?” “Where do you buy your books?” Everyone you meet is a potential resource and everyone loves to talk about what they are reading.IMG_4308.JPG

Identify typical readers and separate them from professional readers. This is essential. When we hang with other professionals– publishers, editors, writers– we are not talking to run-of-the-mill readers. We need to always keep that in mind.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. How to you keep on eye on your unique market? Do you panic if a similar book comes out when you are midway through yours? Let’s talk.

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4 Writing Careers: A Retrospective http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/4writingcareersretrospective/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/4writingcareersretrospective/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 02:44:55 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=26402 Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Since 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of our agency, I thought you would enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at some little-known details. Among my ruminations about the agency’s past are my first clients. Looking back on their …

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Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Since 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of our agency, I thought you would enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at some little-known details. Among my ruminations about the agency’s past are my first clients. Looking back on their careers is an instructive exercise; it displays certain truths about a writing career that benefit us all to keep in mind. So here we go…

A trio of wannabe writers who were friends and young moms came to me through the recommendation of an established author who had been mentoring the group. Here are their first-book publishing experiences:

I recall being at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference when I received a message to call an editor at WaterBrook Press. I couldn’t imagine what business issue was so demanding that it couldn’t wait. I made my way to the pay phone (this was 20 years ago, after all) and called the editor. To my delight, I discovered she wanted to offer a contract for a beautiful gift book on marriage that Joanna Weaver had written entitled With This Ring. In short order after that offer, Joanna also received a contract for a series of children’s books from David C. Cook. She and I were exuberant about such a grand beginning to her writing career.Having a Mary Heart

Our jaws would have dropped if we had realized Joanna’s next book, which also was published by WaterBrook, would sell more than a million copies. Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World still sells tens of thousands of copies each year of its sixteen years. This, I must add, was Joanna’s first, full-length manuscript.

After writing Mary Heart, Joanna’s writing dreams were put on the shelf for five years before she was able to take them down, dust them off and write her second full-length manuscript. Joanna has written a total of three full-length books. Each one was agonizing for her, a perfectionist, to write, but each is rich with spiritual insight.

Cindy Coloma and I met at Mount Hermon, and I recall that she was pregnant with her third child. Despite being in the later months of her pregnancy, she climbed to the cross, which is up a pretty steep hill from the conference grounds, but is a sunrise Palm Sunday tradition. Cindy seems to slip through life with grace and makes everything she does look easy, just like climbing that hill.

I received news of Cindy’s first sale over the Christmas holidays and remember returning the Tyndale House editor’s call making the offer from my mother’s home, where we were deep into Yuletide celebrations. I also remember the next summer attending the International Christian Retail Show and having several editors and marketers from Winter PassingTyndale request a meeting with me. They wanted to ask more about Cindy because, as one of them said, “She’s a very special, very talented writer. We want to be a part of building her career.” To newbies Cindy and me, we were pretty gaw-gaw about such praise.

Her first novel, Winter Passing, went on to be a Christy Award finalist and a Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Finalist. But Cindy didn’t stop there. Here’s an abbreviated list of the awards her books have won: Beautiful (2010 Christy Award Finalist for YA and 2011 Revolve YA Tour Book of the Year); The Salt Garden (2004 Library Journal’s Best Genre Books); Song of the Brokenhearted (co-author Sheila Walsh) (2013 ECPA bestseller); Orchid House (2008 ECPA bestseller). Pretty nice, eh?

The final young mom in the trio is Tricia Goyer. Tricia’s writing trajectory started out very differently from Joanna’s and Cindy’s. While Tricia’s two friends were busily writing away on contracted book after contracted book, I couldn’t sell any of Tricia’s many projects. For a couple of years, her job was to rejoice with her friends, work hard on new ideas…and get nowhere. She worked faithfully and remained unremittingly happy for Joanna and Cindy. Perseverance and optimism mark Tricia’s career.From Dust and Ashes

Finally I snagged a contract for her with Focus on the Family co-writing Mealtime Devotions. That book was re-released in 2013 as Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions, showing it still has lots of life left in it. Shortly after that sale, I placed her WWII novel, From Dust and Ashes, with Moody Press. And Tricia was loping off into her prolific career.

Since then she’s: become a USA Today and ECPA bestselling author; published fifty-three books (both fiction and nonfiction); and is a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Finalist. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by SheKnows.com. Tricia is also on the blogging team at TheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites, has adopted seven foster children and is homeschooling all seven. About once a week Tricia writes me an email with the subject line “Idea.” That missive will consist of at least one very good book idea that Tricia has dreamed up. Keeping up with Tricia could leave one breathless.

I also have to mention, as I reminisce about clients who have been with me since the beginning, a client I plucked from the slush pile. Early on in the agency, I read manuscripts while sitting on the porch swing at the front of our house. I recall swaying gently on the swing, reading the first chapter of a novel from some fellow named Dale Cramer. I was enjoying the story immensely when I came to a line that made me burst out laughing because it came as such a surprise but was delivered with perfection. I knew I had to represent this author.Sutter's Cross

Dale Cramer’s novel, Sutter’s Cross, was a challenge to sell. Editors didn’t seem to appreciate how very good it was. Then, after about a year of searching for a home for it, in one week, two publishers took a shine to it. Bethany House ended up publishing it, and Dale went on to write six more best-selling novels, winning two Christy Awards and having two novels receive designations as Publishers Weekly’s Best of the Year and Library Journal’s Best of the Year.

Fun facts about Dale: He’s an electrician by trade, doesn’t have much of an education, and didn’t start to write until he became a stay-at-home dad in his 40s and took an online writing course. His sense of humor is Southern and wicked, and he is a stunningly fine writer.

While it’s fun for me to reminisce about the first buds of each of these author’s careers, lessons abound here for other writers. Among them:

  • No two careers look alike.
  • None of us can guess a career’s trajectory.
  • Hard work + talent eventually pay off.
  • The sweetness of bringing a book idea to fruition never wanes.

What other lessons do see in these brief descriptions of four writing careers?

TWEETABLES

What can we learn by looking at four writing careers? Click to tweet.

A long-view of four writing careers. Click to tweet.

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Can You Read The Title? http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/can-you-read-this-title/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/can-you-read-this-title/#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2016 08:01:39 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=26392 Blogger: Rachel Kent

The most recent CBA Retailers & Resources magazine had a book on the cover and it took me awhile to figure out what the title said. (Actually, Janet had to tell me.) What a big mistake for …

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Blogger: Rachel Kent

The most recent CBA Retailers & Resources magazine had a book on the cover and it took me awhile to figure out what the title said. (Actually, Janet had to tell me.) What a big mistake for a publishing house to make! Here is the book cover. Can you easily read the title?

knightsmapPerhaps you can make it out, but I am likely not the only one who had trouble with it. It’s easy to see how something like this could happen. I didn’t tell you what the title is because if you know what it says it is easier to figure out. The author and publisher would both already know the title of the project, so the font wouldn’t be as confusing for them. They likely gave their approval without getting opinions from those who didn’t know the title.

My client Jessica R. Patch’s new book does not have this problem. As you can see the title is bold, clear, and distinct. It can be read even when the picture of the cover is small.

51eYKtR4dBL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_The cover of a book Wendy represented is below. The publisher made the decision to make the title so small it is hardly readable. This is another big cover mistake. The font is fine, but the words are so small you can hardly see them. At least the picture is intriguing! And you can read author Bonnie Grove’s name.

talkingtothedead

What are some title or cover mistakes you have seen recently? Do you think it can hurt book sales?

Has a bad title or cover ever stopped you from purchasing/reading a book?

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Building Muscle for Your Brand http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/building-muscle-for-your-brand/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/building-muscle-for-your-brand/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2016 08:01:03 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=26375 Blogger: Mary Keeley

The subject of author brand brings up guttural sounds of anxiety from many writers. Why? Because they are new in their career and haven’t yet put their finger on what their unique author characteristics are. Or, because …

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Blogger: Mary Keeley

The subject of author brand brings up guttural sounds of anxiety from many writers. Why? Because they are new in their career and haven’t yet put their finger on what their unique author characteristics are. Or, because authors know inwardly that they aren’t maximizing the use of their brand to build a strong platform, and their slow-growing social media numbers confirm it. Make it a priority to frequently assess how well you are doing at building muscle for your brand.

Brand_original-brandWhy?

Your brand is the foundation upon which a strong author platform can build and expand.

Nonfiction editors have for a long time said a writer needs to have a well-developed platform that includes some or all of these: speaking engagements, radio program or guest appearances, association with a ministry, and at least 50,000 or more social media followers in order to attract serious interest. Recently, fiction editors have begun to quote the same social media threshold because the current competition for publishing slots can command it.

But here comes the good news.

Many a writer has asked me the obvious question: How do I go about getting the kind of numbers that will prompt an editor to sit up and take notice? The prerequisite to a how-to discussion is that you have already laid your custom foundation, your brand, identifying what is different about you and what you will write for the foreseeable future. If you are a new writer and aren’t sure your brand statement clearly defines you, the author, this is the place where you need to begin. A blog I posted some time ago will help you. Now on to building muscle for your brand.

Efficiency, consistency, and planning are key to gathering followers.

These tips can make all the difference:

  • Efficiency. Focus your social media activity to the two or three networks that you are most comfortable using and are gathering the most followers. Don’t try to do all of them. Editors are more impressed with large numbers in two networks than small numbers spread across four or five networks.
  • Consistency. Your posts, guest posts and comments, newsletters, interviews, articles—whatever you say or write anywhere except in private family and friend groups—should reflect the uniqueness of you and your brand in some subtle or overt way. Your author voice, an interesting bit of information, comparison, or contrast about something related to your current book’s setting or characters, a current conversation or statistic that reinforces your angle to your topic are just a few ways to quietly promote your brand.
  • Consistency. It’s valuable, to a point, to help followers make a personal connection with you by sharing about yourself personally. We’re all familiar with the dangers of sharing too much information, not to mention infringing on family members’ privacy. But there also is a danger to your brand in sharing personally too often. You could be attracting followers only for the friendship connection, which does not accomplish an author’s fundamental purpose for using social media: building your brand muscle to grow your platform. Readers love to learn organically, so multiply followers who are interested in your special passions and interests. How do you do this? By encouraging online conversations, tweets, retweets, and likes about something you discovered in your research for your book, some little-known piece of history, or a current event related to your book’s topic. It can be enough to spark a broad reach.
  • Consistency. Always blog on the same days every week. Never miss a scheduled day. If you write a newsletter, make sure it gets into your subscribers’ inboxes on the expected day each time.
  • Planning. Use an automated system such as Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule posts on the social media networks you use. Linkhumans.com compared the options of each to help you decide which is better for you. Here is the link to the article. Plan your posts in advance and then use short portions to coordinate scheduled tweets and comments elsewhere. This type of planned networking reinforces your brand across multiple spaces at one time, potentially compounding your visibility. It’s efficient too, which means you’ll have more time for writing .

What do you think of these how-to steps to building muscle for your brand? What are you already doing, and what do you need to begin doing to reinforce your brand? What brand reinforcement efforts have you undertaken that have brought you a good return?

TWEETABLES:

Your brand is the foundation upon which a strong author platform can build and expand. Click to Tweet.

Efficiency, consistency, and planning are key to gathering followers. Click to Tweet.

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Writers – Don’t Try This at Home http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/dont-try-this-at-home/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/dont-try-this-at-home/#comments Wed, 27 Jan 2016 06:00:13 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=26361 Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

Sometimes my inbox turns up the most interesting things. For example, this query I received:

→ It showed over a dozen agents’ email addresses in the “to” line.

→ It was addressed to “Dear Sir/Madam.” (I don’t …

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Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

Sometimes my inbox turns up the most interesting things. For example, this query I received:

→ It showed over a dozen agents’ email addresses in the “to” line.

→ It was addressed to “Dear Sir/Madam.” (I don’t answer to either.)

→ It was not even remotely related to “Christian worldview” which is our agency’s specialty.

→ It didn’t include the elements required in a query letter as explained in the Books & Such submission guidelines.

→ Best of all, the letter stated that that the writer believed I was “exactly the right agent” for the project—apparently all the other agents on the list fit this description too.

→ And just to make things interesting, the book was pitched as a novel but was only 35,000 words… a novella, for which the market is really tough for a debut writer.

rejectedMany agents would simply delete this query, unanswered. I chose to respond briefly, saying that I couldn’t consider the query, but asked the writer to read agent submission guidelines to better determine who might be a fit for the project.

If you want agents to spend time reading and considering your query, you would be smart to:
(1) research the agency
(2) address it to the agent’s name, and
(3) not let your “to” line show other addressees

Does that sound reasonable?

Have you had any interesting adventures in querying?

 

TWEETABLES

Here’s how to make sure a literary agent doesn’t respond to your query. (Click to Tweet.)

Hint: Most literary agents don’t respond to “Sir/Madam.” (Click to Tweet.)

 

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Snowed Under http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/snowed-under/ http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/snowed-under/#comments Tue, 26 Jan 2016 09:00:40 +0000 http://www.booksandsuch.com/?p=26365 Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Many of you got a good dose of snow over the weekend. I’m not going to talk about being snowed in but about that horrible feeling of being snowed under.

I decided to use these first few …

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Blogger: Wendy Lawton

Many of you got a good dose of snow over the weekend. I’m not going to talk about being snowed in but about that horrible feeling of being snowed under.

I decided to use these first few weeks of January to work on my systems– something I always resolve on January 1st but never allocate enough time to do. It always takes far longer than I estimate and I end up feeling guilty enough to give up and “get back to work” before the job is done. It’s part of the reason I spend the rest of the year feeling snowed under with work.dreamstime_xs_4571485

In my last job our office manager, Anna, always came back to work in January carrying boxes of manila folders. She took the files from the year before last and put them in cardboard boxes, carefully labeled with the year and the kinds of files–accounts payable, vendors, customers, etc.–and had them carried upstairs to the file room.  Then she moved the previous year’s files down a drawer, and made fresh files for each account. Being the boss and being a person who doesn’t like change, I’d always moan when I went to reach for an oft-opened drawer and found fresh, empty folders. But Anna knew what she was doing.

Managing our projects, our family, our lives is a challenge. It’s easy to get snowed under.

IMG_5917I’ve been reading the book, Do More Better, by Tim Challies and he sets out a great productivity plan, giving step-by-step instructions. His advice is to have three systems–an information system (I’m using Evernote), a calendar (I use the Apple Calendar) and a task management system (I’m trying Nozbe, but he recommends Todoist). I also made use of online instruction, taking Dave Crenshaw’s Time Management Fundamentals through the learning site, Lynda.com. I followed his advice and used his method of processing–hence boxes of unprocessed stuff that needs to be done. I took a photo of some of my boxes for Facebook. Scary! Plus I’m using Anna’s filing method and creating new files for everything.

I also took the plunge and updated all my computer and mobile device operating systems, knowing I’ll have to patiently work through the glitches and software bugs that will arise. But if I don’t bite the bullet and get it done, I’ll soon find everything obsolete.

So why am I telling you all this?

Because, many of you are starting out on your writing careers. This may be the last time you ever have breathing room enough to think about productivity, to become familiar with the programs and systems you will desperately need once your career moves into high gear. Forget spring cleaning, use this time to do an audit of your systems and think through how you manage information. One day, if not today, you will be snowed under with information.

My recommendations?

  • Read and work through a good time management book like Challies book or Getting Things Done by David Allen.
  • Try Lynda.com. A trial membership offers ten days free and you can take as many courses as you can fit in ten days. Take a time management course like the one I took from Dave Crenshaw. Take an in-depth course on Evernote and all the other software you need to dig into.These courses are superb. You may end up like me and decide to invest in lifelong learning.
  • Download and install all system upgrades and app updates. I know you hate to mess with things when everything is humming along nicely but. . . it’s a necessary evil.
  • Keep at it until everything is operational. Don’t settle for workarounds. If you have to call helplines, get ‘er done.
  • Dig in and begin to cultivate good habits for handling email and processing information.
  • Set up your reader list and decide the many ways you are going to capture this information and build this database. (Nothing makes you more attractive to a publisher than a vigorous database.)
  • Build good habits early in your career. It may make all the difference in the world later.

So, did you groan when you saw I was writing about productivity again? (I know, I’m a productivity geek.) What tips do you have for the rest of us?

booksandsuchseal

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