Monday, March 31, 2008

Etiquette Tips for Conferences

Jessica Faust at Bookends wrote about Conference Etiquette today. It's one agent's view of how writers should approach agents at conferences.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Book Trailers

Kristin Nelson on her Pub Rants blog wrote about book trailers. I thought one of the commentors made some interesting points.

COS Productions said:
Statistically speaking, book trailers sell books and are popular with a certain type of viewer.

The RWR article that someone referred to has a bookseller come right out to say that readers like them. The top trailers for Borders group that got people to buy?

Traditional readers, which most of the commenting here seem to be, are more likely to use reviews, back cover copy and a friend's recommendation than a trailer.

Traditional readers are not the prime target audience of book trailers. "Potential" or "Occasional" readers are. And young adult readers. These are people who see books as a form of entertainment, but may not read on a regular basis.

A survey of over 200 readers showed that the biggest thing that would make them pick up a book after seeing the trailer is - genre. So in the end, it is still personal preference that ruled the day.

TV spots are not as expensive anymore and are within the budget of many mid-list authors. Not a lot of people know about this recent turn of events, but those who do tend to utilize it.

If the trailer is good enough and has some entertainment value to it many people will take it as content.

The trailer is, in my opinion, is less important than the distribution of the trailer. Yes, it has to be good. But it can be just "okay" and still be quite effective.

The trailers we make come with distribution. Both online and offline. Starting in April we'll be able to have our trailers played in buses in 5 major cities. That's 10 million impression and costs our clients $175 (formatting fee). That doesn't even count the fact that they are put up on around 50 social sites, several book marking sites, sent out to 300 booksellers and 5000 libraries.

I know there are a lot of people who are new to book trailers. And to digital media or online marketing. If you're not getting more use out of a trailer than putting it on your website and up on YouTube, why bother? Just having it does nothing for your sales. What you do with it does.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Women's Fiction Contest

The gals at Bookends have announced the winner of the thriller/suspense contest. They are now doing a women's fiction contest. Go to their blog to read the complete rules and enter. The deadline is tomorrow, March 28th, at 9:00 a.m. EST.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Book Promotion Advice from Pros

Barbara Vey wrote a blog post on Author...Promote Thyself. I found several of the comments very interesting.

Leah commented:

As a former book publicist, current editor and always avid reader, I've seen a number of sides of the publicity angle. The #1 priority for writers is to write. The best publicity you can have is a whole shelf of books, preferably *really good* ones, at the bookstore and releases that are 6-8 months apart to help you build an readership. Everything beyond that is gravy - though always very much appreciated.

It's true that book publicists are swamped. I typically had 8-10 books a month to publicize, usually through a combination of advertising, pushing to reviewers, and pitching to media. Keep in mind that the bulk of the promotional money a publisher spends is actually in the bookstore, getting placement in the tower or on front tables or maybe in the bookstore newsletter or through incentives to get the store to order more copies. It's hard to discern, but it all goes back to books on shelves being the best advertising.

I found that the more an author was willing to pitch in on the promo end, the easier it was for me to build on that and help out. That said, it doesn't mean you want to dump on your publicist a list of 50 bookstores and say you want her to arrange signings for you. ;-)

Marty Olver commented:

(I do PR for a series so that the author can find time to write and keep a day job!) One thing that can help is to try to focus your marketing efforts on specific targets. You should note that MySpace and FaceBook are largely unspecific...and reaching a mass market can be daunting unles the masses have already heard of you. So try thinking smaller and more targeted.

Identify what we call a "verticle market". What special interests pertain to the storyline? Perhaps travel or sporting activities are enjoyed by the character. Then search on the Internet for forums directed to just those interests. (In our case, divers and travel agencies) Besides posting to these visitors in the forums, I also Google conferences designed for divers and for travel agents. Then I offer the conference organizers a free signed copy of the novel as a doorprize for the event. The audiences at conferences can reach 300 or more people interested in YOUR TOPIC. When your novel is held up at a raffle at the conference banquet, you might have 300 captive visitors tuned in to your gift. (Make sure you send along a short paragraph describing the storyline.) Only one conference attendee can win the doorprize, but others will be piqued. Hopefully you'll spark dinner-table conversations. Good luck to all of you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Watch Out For...Copyright Scam

Victoria Strauss has posted a warning on Writers Beware about a Copyright Scam: US Copyright Registry. To quote part of it:

If you're a writer, you probably have a website. If you have a website, you may recently have been emailed an official-looking WEBSITE COPYRIGHT LICENSING NOTICE from the US Copyright Registry, informing you that your website "has not been protected and is now available for copyright registration."

If you've received anything like this, go read her post. Someone is trying to scare people into paying them money to "officially copyright" their websites. (In case you haven't caught on, you don't have to register to have copyright on the material on your webpage.)

There's more information on this at PlagiarismToday in their article U.S. Copyright Registry Called a Scam.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Some More on Submitting Queries

Jessica Faust at Bookends blogged about Multiple Submissions within the Same Agency today. She also wrote about What Credentials Do Nonfiction Writers Need.

Kate Elliott at Deep Genre wrote about How do you Pitch the Multi-Volume [Fantasy] Series to Publishers?

Anna Genoese wrote some advice about Submissions, Part 2. To quote part of it:

Double check your grammar, your spelling, your punctuation. An error on page 14 is forgiveable -- an error on page 1 is not. This one line could even be its own post -- look, just pick a spelling style (British English or American English) and make it consistent. Pick a punctuation style and stick with it. If you always use two hyphens with a space on either end to indicate an em-dash, we'll totally get it -- but be consistent. And if your story reads well and can be understood, precisely following Latinate grammar isn't always necessary. Casual is fine, but for the love of Glorificus, if you even think a sentence might not read properly, read it out loud or ask someone who knows of what they speak for advice. When in doubt, ask the internet.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What Does It Take?

Writers Beware! has an interested article on How Do You Tell Who's Going to "Make It?" as an author. Steady writing habit, acceptance of criticism, networking, submitting your work, and professionalism--sounds like advice I've heard before, but it's always good to be reminded what it takes!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

News about Borders and What It Means

If you've been keeping up with industry news, you'll have heard that Borders may sell parts or all of its company. Kristin Nelson does a good job explaining what the implications could be for authors (and, incidentally, shares that B&N has only one non-genre fiction buyer).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thriller/Suspense Contest

The gals at Bookends have announced the winner of the historical romance contest. They are now doing a thriller/suspense contest (the romantic suspense contest is still to come). Go to their blog to read the complete rules and enter. The deadline is tomorrow, March 20th, at 9:00 a.m. EST.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

All About Agents

The have been a lot of posts lately about agents and what they do. Here are some of them.

Jessica Faust at Bookends wrote about how she goes about considering a nonfiction proposal (though that wasn't the point of the post). She also wrote her take on what she'd want in an agent if she was a writer. She also wrote about Different Agents for Different Projects and When the Client List Is Full.

Miss Snark wrote about when agents say, "I'll get back to you." She also wrote about Submission dead times near holidays and What Percentage Do Agents Sell? and Number of Active Clients and When Agents Stop Communicating and Multiple Agents for Multiple Genres?

Kristin Nelson at Pub Rants wrote about how agents know they can auction a book.

The Rejecter answered multiple questions in a blog post where she also talked about how does an agent submit manuscripts to publishers. To quote the relevant section: varies from agency to agency, but everyone has their own style of submitting and sometimes will not submit the same way to different editors. Good agents know editors personally, so they go out to lunch and the agent talks up this new manuscript they've got, and the editor says, "Send it over and I'll take a look." Or sometimes agents simply mail out the manuscript to as many editors as they know who they know are looking for your sort of novel, hoping for at least a few hits. It depends on the agent, their connections, and their style. The only thing that matters for you is if they make a sale and for how much money.

Monday, March 17, 2008

How Many Books Are Sold Online?

Victoria Strauss wrote an interesting blog post about Online Book Sales. To quote part of it,

In 2007....Bowker's PubTrack Consumer (quoted in PW) estimates that 20% of all US book purchases are made on the Internet. In the UK, according to Bookmarketing Limited's Books and the Consumer survey (quoted in Publishing News Online), 17% of all book revenue comes from online purchases.

Clearly, Internet book sales have become substantial....[but] if 20% of books are sold online, 80% are sold elsewhere.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ever Wondered How Many...?

Ever wondered how many book and magazine titles a store carries? According to a recent Wall Street Journal article on the new Borders concept stores, the standard Borders superstore will now stock about 85,000 to 90,000 titles. They used to stock more, but now they are stocking fewer books and placing more of them face-out. To quote Shelf Awareness:

...the new approach has led to sales increases "in the double digits" and has led to the removal of 5%-10% of the average store's titles--many of which sell only one copy a year in each store.

...the change will be apparent in most Borders stores within six weeks and be most noticeable in categories like children's, food, cooking, travel, art and photography but less so in fiction.

...At a typical Borders superstore, the reduction of inventory will be between 4,675 and 9,350 titles out of about 93,500.

...The average 25,000 square-foot Barnes & Noble superstore stocks approximately 125,000 to 150,000 book titles...

According to New York Post article by Keith J. Kelly,

Retail behemoth Wal-Mart is tossing more than 1,000 magazines from the racks in its stores... Most of the magazines are small, and more than a few of the victims are titles that have long since stopped publishing... However, virtually no major publisher was spared. believed to be responsible for generating more than 20 percent of all retail magazine sales in the US. ....Wal-Mart [has] 4,000 stores.

It seems like the trend right now is to stock fewer titles, but to give those titles better placement.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Historical Romance Contest

The gals at Bookends have announced the winner of the last romance contest. They are now doing a historical romance contest. Go to their blog to read the complete rules and enter. The deadline is tomorrow, March 14th, at 9:00 a.m. EST.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Miscellaneous Information on Self-Publishing

Miss Snark wrote several blog posts on vanity presses like Booklocker and PublishAmerica. She also wrote about what sales numbers are normal for self-published books.

Here is a news article about a self-published author's success story and what it took for the book the sell well.

Victoria Strauss at Writers Beware! wrote about Lessons for Self-Publishers. They also have a lot of useful information and warnings for anyone considering self-publishing.

The Rejecter answered several questions in a blog post including one about how many self-published books do you need to sell before mentioning it in your query. She said:

In general, unless your book has sold over 3000 copies (which means you didn't sell them all to family and friends or by hand at conventions), it doesn't mean much to us that it was previously published. We will review it like we review any other submission - as potential new material to be weighed on its own merit.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Getting Your Manuscript Seen

The Writers Beware blog has several good articles on alternative ways to get your manuscript seen by editors and if you should use them, including Manuscript Display Websites. They also talk about whether you should post your work online or not. They also warn against using E-Query Blaster Services and explain why you shouldn't use them.

Miss Snark also talks about posting your work online.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Improving Your Writing

Several blogs and online worshops have been discussing writing or how to improve your writing.

David Louis Edelman on Deep Genre wrote about How to Write a Novel (Part 1) and (Part 2).

Carol Berg on Deep Genre wrote about starting a new series in Don’t Panic.

Sherwood Smith on Deep Genre wrote about different Points of View.

Evil Editor wrote on Dialogue Tags and Who is this Nathan Bransford clown, and Why Is He Taking Away My Similes?

Angie Fox, a guess blogger on the Bookends blog, wrote some Writing tips.

Margie Lawson wrote about Body Language 101.

On Hatrack River Writer's Worshop, we've been discussing:
Why the problem with the 1st 13 isn't that it's too short
Writing Adverbially
Twists and storytelling
How much help can a hero accept?
Can a hero lose?
Travel & Writing
Magic Systems

Friday, March 7, 2008

What Do They Do #3

Jessica Faust has written a few new posts on different publishing industry jobs. The first is about book packagers and talks about how a book packager is different from an agent. The second talks about everything an agent does for their client and often don't tell the client about.

Jane Dystel also explains what an agent does for you in her post.

On a somewhat related note, Ask Editorial Anonymous has posts on what a marketing director does and a little bit on what publisher rep's do and what a book buyer does.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Conventions, Conferences, and Workshops

So you're decided you want to go to a convention, writer's conference, or writer's workshop. There are a lot of them out there, so which are worth the money? Everyone seems to have a different opinion, so here are some links that may help, or may end up simply confusing you. :)

To start with, here's a list of Writer's Worshops and Sci-Fi Conventions and Locus online convention listings.

Victoria Strauss at Writers Beware wrote about Writers' Conferences: When to be Wary.

Miss Snark wrote about conferences, conferences, and conferences. She also wrote about conventions and trade shows that authors should consider going to and how to contact small presses by going to small press fairs. She also wrote about BookExpo America.

Nathan Bransford wrote about Conference Protocol.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Conventions and Conferences

Over on Deep Genre, there was a discussion in the comments section on how to meet science-fiction agents at conventions and conferences. I thought the following quotes would be useful to anyone looking for an agent.

Carol Berg wrote:

Writers’ conferences (like Pikes Peak, Surrey, Colorado Gold et al) are very different from conventions (World Science Fiction, World Fantasy, WesterCon, ArmadilloCon etc.) You are correct that writers’ conferences have only a few editors and agents, so if your sole interest is to "pitch" your finished book, you want to look for conferences hosting people who represent or publish your preferred genre. There may be only one or two, but most editors who are there know the fantasy/sf editors at their houses. Good conferences try to cover the genres by getting pros who represent many kinds of works. Sometimes they do better than others. Anyway, writers conferences also provide workshops to help improve your writing, agent and editor panels to help you learn about the business, and networking with other writers. Yes, agents and editors get tired from the pitches, but they are there to discover new writers. Yes, they want to hear what kind of person you are, but if you pitch them something they haven’t heard before and demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm, (or even babble foolishly as I did) you can get them interested. In any case they will likely request your pages and read your work - which is the object of the pitch.

Science fiction conventions are held everywhere across the country. At the largest conventions like World Fantasy and World Science Fiction (which includes fantasy programming), you will see lots of agents and editors. But there is no formal venue for meeting them (like WC pitch or read-and-critique sessions). You meet them through networking, offering to buy a cup of coffee or a drink, or getting into the same parties. At regional and local conventions (like Westercon, MileHiCon, Archon, and the like) you might have an opportunity to meet agents and editors and might not. Writing programming at sf conventions usually consists of panel discussions rather than workshops. These are sometimes about writing, sometimes about fantasy or sf tropes, sometimes about the litererature. Quality can vary widely, depending on the qualifications and background of panelists.

Writers conferences tend to be more expensive, as they usually compensate their faculty. Conventions are all-volunteer events to keep their costs down. World SF (this year in Denver) and World Fantasy (this year in Calgary) are more expensive than regional conventions.

For me, the format of the conference provided opportunities to meet the right people without the pressure of a "social" situation. And it allowed me to bypass queries. If you have a manuscript you believe is ready to market, look seriously at opportunities to meet the pros in person. (And yes, EVERYone is nervous.)

David Louis Edelman wrote:

I imagine the perfect interaction with an agent/editor would go something
like this.

You attend a panel that the agent/editor is on. You listen attentively and, after the panel, approach the agent/editor and ask a pertinent follow-up question or two. Nothing too pushy. "Hi. I was really interested in what you said about x. What do you think about y?" After a couple of minutes, you say, "Thanks. I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I’m ____, by the way. I’m writing a fantasy novel about [something very short, pithy and intriguing], and I’d like to send you a sample and a proposal." Chances are the agent/editor will say something pleasant and noncommittal like "Sure, send it and I’ll take a look at it." At that point you smile, shake their hand, say thank you, and walk away. Don’t push.

A week later, you send them your proposal letter, the first few chapters, and a standard cover letter that begins with, "It was very nice meeting you after the panel about Yiddish Vampires at BlahBlahCon last weekend. As discussed, here’s my novel about [something very short, pithy and intriguing.]"

Obviously you adjust this scenario depending on the circumstances. And it’s not going to work every time. But if your short, pithy and intriguing ynopsis is intriguing, that’s about all you’ll need to get someone to take a look. Of course, it’s probably going to have to pass through the 22-year-old intern first, but them’s the breaks.

Short, non-pushy interactions in person. Maybe a few polite comments on their blog, if one exists. You’re not looking to be their best buddy. You’re just looking to tickle their mind and remind them that, oh yeah, this was that nice, earnest guy/gal that I met at BlahBlahCon. If your book is good, the writing will do the rest. If it’s not good enough, well, hopefully at least you’ve got someone you can send your next book to.

E-book Sales

For those who like to read e-books or are trying to sell an e-book, I thought you might enjoy the following news:

David Rothman wrote on E-Book Sales in 2007, and he said:

American e-book sales in 2007, by “12-15 trade publishers,” jumped to $31.7 million or 23.6 percent higher than in 2006.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Contemporary Romance Contest

The gals at Bookends have announced the winner of the last romance contest. They are now doing a contemporary romance contest. Go to their blog to read the complete rules and enter. The deadline is tomorrow, March 4th, at 9:00 a.m. EST.