7 Reasons Why Your Novel Needs a Book Proposal

April 22nd, 2014

I’ve been commissioned to write a new book. It’s on book proposals. This book will include book proposals for novels and children’s books. Now why would the publisher and I decide to include them? Because more and more publishers want to see book proposals for novels and even children’s books. Here, I’d like to cover a few reasons why your novel needs a book proposal.

1: A book proposal can mean the difference between a rejection slip and a publishing contract. Contrary to what you may have heard, most traditional royalty publishers request a book proposal—yes, even for fiction. In fact, sometimes the publisher is more interested in the book proposal than he is the manuscript. Just look at some of the books that have made it into Barnes and Noble and that are on the bestseller lists. Are they all really that good?

The fact is that sometimes mediocre manuscripts are produced when excellent ones go unnoticed. Why? Think about it: A publisher is in the business to make money. Let’s say that the publisher can produce one more book this year. He’s looking for a single book to fill his catalog. If one author comes to him with a good book and no ideas for promoting it and another author shows up with a mediocre manuscript and an amazing promotional plan written into her proposal, which one do you think he’s going to choose?

2: A book proposal will tell you whether you have a book at all. A synopsis is a major part of a fiction book proposal. If you can’t write a succinct synopsis that brings your story to life, your book might not have all of the elements of a good story. Writing a synopsis is an excellent exercise—one that affords you the opportunity to examine your story from outside the traditional boundaries of the manuscript. Doesn’t it make sense to determine whether you have a viable project before you approach a publisher or self-publish your book?

3: A book proposal will help you to learn something about the publishing industry. As part of the book proposal process, presumably, you will spend some time studying aspects of your genre. You’ll define your publishing options and learn the possible consequences of your choices.

Think about it, you wouldn’t enter into any other field of business without learning about the industry, the products, distributors, manufacturers, suppliers and so forth. You would check out your competition and the needs of your customers. Publishing is not an extension of your writing. Publishing is a business and your book, once published, is a product. A book proposal, then, is a business plan for your book

More reasons why your novel needs a book proposal in my next post.

Bookselling is Personal

April 18th, 2014

You may have heard the term “Special Sales.” Do you know what this means? It represents sales outside of the traditional bookstores. Although this seems to be a new term, it certainly isn’t a new concept. Authors have been generating sales through specialty stores, presentations, book festivals, online marketing, article-writing and so forth for years and years. In fact anyone who has been promoting a book for more than a few months is aware that he or she must reach outside their old, familiar haunts in order to sell copies of their books.

Bookselling has become personal. It used to be that the author was some mysterious figure in the background of any book. To readers, an author was a name—nothing more—no face, particularly no presence or personality. That was when you’d walk into a bookstore to purchase a book—there were no Internet sales; no bookracks in delis, veterinarians’ offices, local airports, sporting goods stores, bakeries, etc. and few author presentations.

Now, readers know what their favorite author eats for breakfast, how many children they have, the names of their pets and the brand of hair coloring they use. Readers have the opportunity to meet authors at book festivals, at their club meetings, at church, at conferences and other events. Authors are more visible. We must be if we want to sell books.

As an author, we need a strong online presence, as well. Readers who want to know more about us will conduct Internet searches and we’d better be easy to locate. In other words, we must have a website; we should manage one or more active blogs; be involved in social media and solicit interviews, guests posts, reviews and so forth.

Go where your audience is. Give them what they want. Provide them with the information or entertainment they require or desire. It is all up to you. It is between you and your reader. Keep this in mind and you will succeed.

For additional help promoting your book, read Promote Your Book by Patricia Fry. It’s available here: http://www.matilijapress.com/PromoteYourBook.html and at Amazon in print, audio and for Kindle.

Navigating Changes in the Publishing Industry

April 17th, 2014

There’s a lot of talk (and complaining) about changes in the publishing industry. The changes have been taking place since around 1996, but they seem to be accelerating. I reported strong evidence of the shifting publishing sands in yesterday’s blog post. I just proofed the May issue of SPAWNews and read articles reflecting the shifting tides that other professionals have observed. So what does this mean for authors?

It means that we must put a lot of thought into the books we write before writing them. We must write well, identify our audience early on and write for those readers. We must be fully prepared to promote our books effectively in order to reach that particular audience. So what has changed from the author’s standpoint? Nothing.

As authors, we’re still required to do our best work, know our readers and what they want/need and understand the publishing industry so we approach the task of book promotion in the most effective, sensible and successful way.

We should be open-minded, flexible and willing to take on the responsibility we signed up for. You don’t believe you signed up for anything? Oh yes you did. As soon as you took it upon yourself to enter into the hugely competitive publishing industry and write a book, you accepted responsibility. Whether you live up to it, is up to you. Your decisions will determine whether you succeed or fail.

My message to you today is, yes, the publishing industry is changing in many ways and yes there is still room to succeed. But you must be informed and well-prepared. Start by studying the publishing industry. As a first step, I recommend reading “Publish Your Book,” by Patricia Fry (that’s me). It’s at Amazon.com in print, audio and Kindle. Or order it from the author: http://www.matilijapress.com/PublishYourBook.html

Think about it, you wouldn’t enter into any other kind of business without knowing something about the industry, your product, your customers/clients, suppliers, competition and so forth. Publishing is a business—a highly complex business and you really ought to consider yourself the CEO of your book from start to finish.

For a heavier dose of writing and publishing reality, subscribe to my bi-monthly enewsletter: http://www.patriciafry.com. Check out the archives here: http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog/?page_id=3081


What’s to Become of the Book Festival?

April 16th, 2014

The giant Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (LATFB) is over. Typically, we would still be planning for the event, but it came earlier than usual this year. I guess the timing of Easter had something to do with that.

SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) had a presence at the LATFB as we have most of the last 18 years. But this year it was a little different than usual. Our booth still received a lot of visitors—we handed out over 300 SPAWN Catalogs of Members’ Books and 200 people signed up to receive the SPAWN newsletter. But it was not a buying public this year.

Typically, I sell around 30 or 40 of my books for authors—“Publish Your Book” and “Promote Your Book.” I sold only 3. I didn’t see many people lugging books around in tote bags or in backpacks. Those who talked about the books they carried said they were free books they picked up here and there. (Several asked if the books we displayed were free.)

My books and our members’ books received a great deal of attention. But we made few sales. Most visitors asked if the books were online. Then, before walking away, they’d ask for a card, bookmark or brochure.

I had stacks of my first two Klepto Cat Mystery books in the booth. It was fun watching so many people stop and smile at the cute covers, pick up the books and look them over, etc. Most then asked, “Are they at Amazon?” I explained, “Yes, in print and on Kindle.” Two young women pulled out their iPhones and ordered the Kindle version of one of the books on the spot. And when I returned home, I discovered that sales for the Kindle books and the print books produced through CreateSpace had increased. I hope this was true for our SPAWN members, as well.

The times, they continue to change—especially within the publishing industry. Does this mean book festivals will become obsolete? Maybe as we know them. Perhaps we’ll do online book festivals in the future.

That would be sad. There would be no face-to-face contact, handshaking, fresh air and exercise. You would miss the sights and sounds of these festive events and talking to people in person.

I can envision physical book festivals in miniature—smaller booths with computers showing intriguing and entertaining book trailers, a sample book or two on display and handouts with quick codes one could click to place an order on the spot. There would be no more expansive tables covered in colorful clothes, schlepping boxes and boxes of books from the car to the event, creating massive displays, charging credit cards and making change. However, there would still be that face-to-face connection with people and a lively exchange of ideas and information in the fresh air.

Do any of you have more advanced visions of the very likely evolution of the book festival?

If you are a hopeful or struggling author, please consider purchasing my book, “Publish Your Book.” I wrote it for the many people I’ve met at book festivals and writers conferences who have either failed as a published author or are headed in that direction. http://www.matilijapress.com/PublishYourBook.html (Be sure to use the caps as shown.)

See You at the LA Times Festival of Books

April 11th, 2014

I’m headed out to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend. SPAWN has secured two booths where some of our members will display and sell their books to some of the 100,000 or so visitors. If you make it to the book festival at USC Saturday or Sunday, be sure to stop by. We have information about SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network), free materials for authors, professionals on hand to talk to about your book project and books for authors.

We also have some interesting books for readers—cozy mysteries; a book on building a more powerful and profitable business network; one on pet first aid; a couple of fascinating, fast-paced novels and even a cookbook.

Step up to the booth (number 201) and we’ll hand you a catalog of over 30 books in a variety of categories—something for every reader of all ages.

Hope to see you there!

Patricia Fry Guest at The Writing Nut AND My Writing Blog

April 9th, 2014

Today I’m featured at the Writing Nut website. It’s kind of a fun premise–they want pix of your workspace and ask you some interesting questions. If you’re a writer, you might want to get the exposure by being one of their Wednesday guests. Check my interview out and meet Lily kitty here: http://www.thewritingnut.com/wednesday-writers-workspace/wednesday-writers-workspace-welcomes-patricia-fry/

I’m also featured here today: http://www.mywritingblog.com/2014/04/interview-patricia-fry-on-book-promotion.html



A Rant Against Unprofessional Author Slackers

April 7th, 2014

A blog can be many things—a place to share, a teaching tool, a resource center, and more. Sometimes we use our blogs to vent—to rant and complain. Today, I’d like to vent a little while also providing some gentle advice. (Although some of you may view this as a slap in the face.)

You’ve heard (read) me and others say over and over again that when you decide to enter into the world of publishing, in order to be successful, you must do so from a professional perspective. While writing is a craft, publishing is a seriously competitive business. Once you  become published and begin the rely on, work with and otherwise communicate with publishers, agents, publicists, organization leaders and so forth, you should do so with as much professionalism as you can muster.

What does this mean? Actually, many things. Here’s my short list:

  • Check and double/triple check every email, blog post, article, written interview, inquiry, query letter, request, book proposal, etc. before sending it. There is nothing that reveals a lack of professionalism as clearly as carelessness in what you write.
  • Take responsibility! By this I mean when you agree to participate in an interview or another activity designed to promote your book, for example, keep good records and follow through as promised and within the deadline. Don’t whine, become needy and make excuses for your repeated shortcomings and mistakes.
  • Carefully manage your business and if you can’t handle it, hire someone who can keep track of the dates and requirements for your commitments, manage your emails so you can reference them when needed, and so forth.

Sure you’re busy. We all are. And certainly, things happen—you lose or misplace an email or note. You forget a deadline. You are confused about instructions and need assistance. But it is oh-so unprofessional when you keep sloppy records, get lazy and refuse to search for the information you’ve been sent and then ask the interviewer or organizer to backtrack and reiterate pertinent information or instructions.

A real pet peeve of mine is the individual who emails me with a question and then neglects to even check their email for days or even weeks. A few weeks later, he or she contacts me again asking for the same information. This is a good way to disrespect someone who is trying to assist you. Don’t you know that sometimes they have spent a good deal of their time to accommodate you? And you don’t have the courtesy to take responsibility on your end? Unprofessional, indeed.

Sure, I’m aware that everyone is writing books these days. A published book makes you an author even when you pay someone to produce your book and no matter whether you’re the CEO of a large company, homemaker, retired factory worker or telemarketer. Obviously, authorship does not a professional make. But every author should consider him or herself the CEO of their book and come out of the publishing gate with a professional persona.

Again let me say: publishing is a business. Most of the people you’ll be dealing with once you are a published author are professional people in their fields or positions, whether they are

publishers/agents, organization leaders or in businesses that support publishing and book promotion. I have to say that most of the people I meet and work with are wonderfully responsible and reliable, but those needy ones can sure be energy-draining. Just look at how much time these people took from me this morning by eliciting this rant.

Okay, the next blog post should cover how to shield yourself from the negativity from unprofessional, unreliable, irresponsible authors. I may or may not write it. Stay tuned. And leave your comments, if you dare.



Contributing to Your Success as an Author

April 6th, 2014

The April issue of my e-newsletter, Publishing/Marketing News and Views is out. If you’re on my e-mailing list, you received it last week. Be sure to read it. If you’re not on my e-mailing list, you can still read this issue and all previous issues here: http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog/?page_id=3081

Sign up here to receive all subsequent issues starting in June. http://www.patriciafry.com

In the April issue you’ll learn, among other things, how personality sells books and how to work a book festival so it works for you. If you have a book to promote, these are two important concepts. In fact, two professionals contacted me after receiving the newsletter—one asked if she could use the article on how personality sells books in a speech she’s giving to writers this weekend and another asked for permission to publish two of my articles in her newsletter. Another professional tweeted about the value of this newsletter.

If you want to be on my mailing list to receive Publishing/Marketing News and Views, sign up here: http://www.patriciafry.com.

You can also download a FREE report while there. “50 Ways to Establish Your Author’s Platform.” And if you don’t think your author’s platform is important in marketing a book to publishers and selling your book to readers, you are sadly mistaken.

I’m planning a new “50 Ways” Freebie. So far I have also offered you “50 Reasons Why You Should Write That Book” and “50 Ways to Promote Your eBook.” Is there a topic you would like me to cover in my upcoming FREE report? I’m considering “50 Ways to Promote Your Novel.” Anyone interested in that topic? Let me know by leaving a comment here or email me PLFry620@yahoo.com

How to Use Spinoffs to Promote Your Fabulous Book

April 5th, 2014

If you’re struggling to sell copies of your book, here’s an idea: Add another product to your repertoire. Produce a spinoff book, for example. If you truly have an audience for your book, and you’re just having difficulty getting the word out and generating sales, a second or third book might help you gain more of that all important recognition.

If you’re a new author without a following, it may take some creativity and time to become known in your field or genre. Certainly, you have your own website—a place where you can invite potential customers. You should also have a presence throughout the social media realm. In order to attract people to your website, offer a freebie—a downloadable ebooklet on the topic of your book. And aggressively advertise this fact.

Let’s say your book chronicles some of your travels throughout remote areas of the US and you’ve added reviews of unique restaurants and cafes. As a spinoff book or free ebooklet, you might offer recipes from these regions, unbelievable customs or a collage of scenic photographs that didn’t make it into the book.

Maybe you’ve written a young adult novel focusing on mysteriously missing dogs. You might create a spinoff book focusing on 50 ways to entertain a dog or 50 tricks you can teach your dog, for example.

Now you have two things to offer and each will help to promote the other. A few years ago, I compiled a book of cat stories—“Catscapades, True Cat Tales.” The book sold at a mediocre pace. Last year, I produced a novel involving cats. I now have four books in my Klepto Cat Mystery series. Since producing the novels, I’ve noticed an increase in sales for “Catscapades.”

I also have several books for authors—most predominantly, “Publish Your Book,” “Promote Your Book” and “Talk Up Your Book.” Not only do these books help to sell one another—people who buy and appreciate one book will be more apt to purchase another. But I also offer a free ebook at my website, http://www.patriciafry.com Currently, it is “50 Ways to Establish Your Author Platform.”

If sales for your single book are lagging because you aren’t well-known in your field or genre, consider upping the ante. Of course, you’re going to show up where your audience congregates online as well as downtown. You’re already reaching out to readers in every way you know how. So why not add to your box of promotional magic by offering something more and use each of those items to promote the other.

A Writer’s Inspiration

April 4th, 2014

When people find out what a prolific writer I am, they often ask, “How do you think of something to write every day in your blog?” or “How do you come up with all those story ideas?” I used to write articles for magazines and got the same questions: “Where do you get all of those article ideas?”

Well, here’s the deal: I’ve found that if I think about my blog, for example, and try to plan a post out, I generally draw a blank. But if I sit down at my computer, fingers on the keyboard, most of the time a topic occurs to me fairly quickly. If not, I just start writing. Usually, a spark of an idea will evolve from my scattered thoughts.

Here’s another idea—when you get an inkling of an idea, write it down for future reference. Often, throughout my work day, a term or a concept will occur to me and I’ll make a note. This often becomes my next article topic or blog post.

I’ve found little gems of ideas in emails I’ve received, advertisements for books or services, comments left at the discussion groups I belong to, books and articles I read and questions people ask me about writing or publishing. I also visit other people’s blogs, social media pages and so forth.

If all else fails, I’ll go out and take a walk. Walking in the fresh air is meditative for me and ideas flow easily when the mind is quiet.

Do you have tricks and rituals you use to generate ideas for your blog, articles or the books you’re writing?

I can tell you that having an inquisitive mind is vital to a writer. But I also believe it’s important to reach outside of ourselves—go out and observe others, listen to their concerns, hopes, worries, fears, complaints and joys. Watch how they move, respond, handle life’s bumps and sweet moments. Your writing will be richer for it.