Why Does Your MS Keep Getting Rejected?

October 22nd, 2014

I own a publishing company. I established Matilija Press in 1983 in order to produce my own books. I do not publish books for others. Yet, I receive inquiries every once in a while from people asking me to publish their works.

Folks, when you decide to publish a book, you are entering into a professional industry and you should always try to come across as a professional. One way to come across as a professional is in the thoroughness of your research. If you contact me asking if Matilija Press will publish your science fiction novel, your memoir, or your self-help book for breaking into the movies, you have not done your research. First, as I said, I don’t publish other people’s books. Second, I have nothing in my list of books on these topics/genres.

If you’ll read the publisher listings in Writer’s Market and/or the publishers’ submission guidelines at their websites, you’ll often see in bold lettering, “Study our catalog before submitting,” or “We publish only children’s books (young adult novels, recipe books,) etc.” Obviously, way too many hopeful authors send their query, proposal, or manuscript to the WRONG publishers. Stop it! It diminishes your credibility within the industry.

Likewise, I notice that book reviewers receive many review requests for types of books they do not review. They, too, use bold print, all caps, and other techniques to educate the author and stop the inundation of review requests for books they absolutely do not review.

Do your research! Before contacting any publisher, agent, or book reviewer, for example, take the time to find out what their requirements are; what type of books they publish/represent/review. How?

  • Study their listings in directories.
  • Visit their websites to learn more about the individual/company.
  • Read and believe their submission guidelines and follow them.

What do you look for in this research?

  • What type of book do they publish, represent, review?
  • Do they review self-published books? (Many reviewers do not.)
  • What word count do they prefer? (Yes, this matters to some publishers.)
  • What are some of the titles they have published, represented, reviewed? Does yours fit in with this list?
  • Are they currently open to receiving manuscripts/completed books or do they want a query letter or proposal? You’re more apt to get the attention you require when you give them what they want.

If you want to experience some level of success as a published author, you really must know the rules and follow them. A major rule is to look at each publisher, agent, and/or reviewer as an individual, because they are. They each come with certain needs, requirements, and policies. Find out what they are and follow them. This is the quickest and slickest way to become a successful published author.

Learn more about the publishing industry and how to navigate it by ordering Publish Your Book, http://www.matilijapress.com/PublishYourBook.html

 

What Can You Teach?

October 20th, 2014

If you’re an author who wants to sell books, you need readers. A good way to get readers is to reach out to those who would be interested in your book with something they want, such as information and techniques. I often recommend that authors of nonfiction books teach workshops on topics related to the theme of their book—dog grooming, making a living wreath, coping with loss, antique-collecting, staging a home for sale, animal photography, and so forth.

If you write novels, you can offer workshops or go out and speak on aspects of fiction-writing—how to format a short-story, self-editing, creating believable characters, how to come up with ideas for a series, and how to color inside the lines when identifying your genre, for example.

Maybe you’ve discovered a unique way to keep track of your story timeline and storyline as you’re writing it, you know some storytelling techniques you could share, or you have experience in cover-design. Why not set up classes in person or online? Go out and discuss your expertise at writers’ conferences or conferences related to the topic or theme of your book. This might be mysteries, travel, a craft, aviation, auto restoration, skin care…

If your book has readers, you could presumably attract students for your workshops or an audience for your presentations. You could charge for your lessons or not. Keep in mind that when you offer your skills to the public, not only will you become known to your students, but your promotion will reach dozens or thousands of others—depending on the scope of your marketing campaign. You can arrange for publicity during your workshops and after. Be sure to talk about the success of your speech or workshop after the fact in your blog, at your social media sites, to your list, and so forth.

You have choices. You can produce a book and wait for someone to notice it. Or you can go out in front of your book and start creating waves of promotion to attract attention. Teaching is just one way to do that.

I’d like to hear from those of you who are already successfully using this method to sell more copies of your book.

 

 

Who Cares About Your Life Story?

October 15th, 2014

Many people today are writing their memoirs. It’s been kind of a trend since the advent of the home computer. But how many others are truly interested in our lives, our philosophy, and our challenges?

The fact is, that probably the least successful books published in the last decade are memoirs by ordinary people like you and me. Yet, in contrast, some of the most successful books have been memoirs by relatively ordinary people. So what makes for a successful memoir? And why do most fail?

It’s simple. In order to succeed with your memoir, certainly you must be a good writer and you must have a good story. But there are other factors that can make the difference between success and failure for the ordinary Joe or Jane. Here’s what I suggest: Choose a theme that resonates with a large segment of the population and promote the book to those folks.

And this is the crux of the problem for most authors. They never once consider their audience as they write their life story. They drone on and on about this ailment and that bad break, their great (or horrid) childhood, their belief system, disappointments, conquests and so forth with no thought about who cares and why they would care.

I’ve worked with dozens of authors on their memoirs. Many of them, while they aspired to sell millions of copies, never once considered their readers. They were too caught up in telling their story truthfully in an orderly fashion. If truth be told, most of them felt a deep need to get the story out—not for others, but for themselves. It was more of a therapeutic exercise than it was a commercial one. And there’s nothing wrong with this, until the author decides he or she wants to turn their personal memoir into a business. Problem!

Why is this problematic? Because, in order to sell something to the public or even a segment of the public, you must, MUST offer something they want. If you turned within while writing your memoir, instead of writing what your potential readers want, you may not be able to generate many sales.

Some memoirists believe they have a wide audience because their family and friends have expressed an interest in their story. They’re all eager to read it. If friends are interested, others will be too, right? Not necessarily. Of course, people who know you will want to read what you wrote. Enticing people who don’t know you to buy your book is the real trick and this is exactly the concept you, as the author of a memoir—or any other type book—must address before ever writing a book for publication.

If you’re considering writing a book, read Publish Your Book for a more in-depth understanding of the publishing industry and how you can succeed in this highly competitive industry. http://www.matilijapress.com/PublishYourBook.html

Should You Consult Other Authors?

October 12th, 2014

I appreciate authors who help other authors. We can all learn from others. However, I caution you against following too closely in another author’s footsteps.

What a single author of a single book often doesn’t understand is that each book and each author is unique and what worked for a retired author of a children’s book might not be the best avenue for the still employed author of a self-help book. The professor who writes an academic book, will follow a different roadmap than the quilter who wants to produce a book on quilting or a dog walker who wants to write her memoirs.

When you attend a writers club meeting or a writers conference and hear authors’ stories of publishing and book marketing, listen with an open mind. Understand why each author made the choices he or she did, what was the upside and the downside, then consider what might work in your own situation. Are his choices good ones for you and your book? While it’s important to understand the premise of publishing and book promotion in this ever-changing publishing climate, it is equally vital that you make the best choices in your particular situation. And you can’t make the right choices if you are not aware of your options.

Your best plan of action, if you are seeking advice, is to attend presentation and read books by authors who have been involved in the publishing industry for a long time. Those with a variety of publishing experiences and with a history of working with other authors. If you want to speak with individual authors, choose those with books similar to yours. You would contact the same reviewers as those authors. You would promote to the same audience. You might seek the same publishers.

There are many options for authors and the publishing playing field can get overwhelmingly complicated. So it is important to consult with others who can help you narrow down the best path for you and this may not be the overly enthusiastic individual author of one book. Start by reading my book, Publish Your Book. http://www.matilijapress.com/PublishYourBook.html

 

Should You Write a Series?

October 8th, 2014

If you’re writing your first book, you might resent my even suggesting this. You’ll be happy if you can make it through the stress of creating one coherent, meaningful, interesting, readable novel. And I’m suggesting you write another one—maybe several other ones? What am I thinking?

Well, I’m thinking about your future and your pocketbook. Many authors today are settling into more comfortable lifestyles because of the proceeds from their mystery, crime, adventure, children’s, etc. book series. Think about it, if readers like your first book—if they enjoyed the story, found the characters engaging, like your writing style and the theme of the book—they will undoubtedly buy your next book and the one after that and so on.

If you have a good idea, why not capitalize on it? If you’re promoting one book on a certain theme or in a certain genre, why not promote several? You’re in the zone, anyway. You know how to promote books of this type.

Should you write a series? If you have strong characters, a good story idea, and you can tell that story well, I urge you to consider planning a series. Publishers like them and readers like them. And these are definitely the people you want to impress.

Your Book Reviews–for Better or Worse

October 4th, 2014

If you have a published book, you may already know something about book reviews. You’ve received a few or many—depending on how aggressively you’ve researched and approached reviewers. I’ve blogged many times about the process of getting book reviews and I’ve provided links to reviewer directories. Today, however, I want to talk about the different types of reviews we get. As you’ve probably discovered, not all reviewers think alike or review in the same manner. Here are some of the review variations you might encounter:

  • The reviewer describes your book or the plot and doesn’t give his or her opinion of the book.
  • The reviewer has a strict evaluation system and sticks firmly to it.
  • The reviewer (generally a casual reader) gushes about the story and the characters and encourages sequels. (Authors love this reviewer.)
  • The reviewer hates the story and says so.
  • The reviewer nitpicks one aspect of the story—too many uses of “gosh,” too much (or not enough) romance, too much (or not enough) suspense, one character unlikable (unbelievable, shallow, etc.).
  • The reviewer obviously doesn’t like this genre or an aspect of the type of story (animals, teens, Westerns, comedies, historical settings, etc.)
  • The reviewer was negatively influenced by his/her own issues. He tried to read it when he was tired, in a bad mood, distracted, upset…Had he picked it up at another time, he may have thoroughly enjoyed it.
  •  The reviewer has a very different sense of humor and could not relate to your attempt at humor or light-reading.

Seasoned authors can probably add to this list. I think the thing we need to remember is that a review is simply an opinion.

Online Courses for Authors

October 2nd, 2014

It appears that online courses are returning. Learning writing and publishing techniques via email used to be popular among authors. I kept busy teaching several different courses for many years. Then, it seemed, that the phase took a downward turn.

Sure, there were plenty of webinars, podcasts, and teleseminars for authors, but the email course, with the one-on-one aspect, seemed to fall by the wayside. Well, it appears that it’s making a comeback.

Authors like the online course format because most allow students to learn at their own pace. Generally, you receive a lecture and an assignment. Instructors appreciate receiving assignments within a week, when the next lecture and assignment is issued. Instructors are also generally available to answer questions and provide additional resources when required or requested. So students have the opportunity to work one-on-one with the instructor.

I notice there are many free courses offered now. But most come with a fee of $75 to $500 or so. I used to charge $150 to $200 for a six- or eight-week course.

Most of the courses offered today are writing courses for novelists, nonfiction writers, children’s writers, screenwriters, and technical writers. During my search this morning, I didn’t locate a few courses for authors—on how to write a book proposal, book marketing, and so forth. And there are still many webinars, etc. based on these themes.

Here are a few sites that produce webinars for authors

http://publishingnews.com

http://authormarketingclub.com

http://www.freepublicitygroup.com

http://bookmarketingbuzz.com

There sites feature writing courses

http://www.writingclases.com.

http://ww.writersvillage.com

http://education-portal.com

http://www.writersstore.com/courses/online-courses

http://www.writersonlineclasses.com

This is not an endorsement for any of these sites. I am throwing them out there as a starting place for you to begin your own thorough Internet search for the best courses or webinars for you. I would suggest choosing a course taught by a real person who has had real-life experiences and/or is educated in the topic, rather than a virtual robot.

In the meantime, visit me here:

http://www.matilijapress.com

http://www.patriciafry.com

Check out my array of mini-ebooks for authors at $1.99 each.

What Keeps You From Promoting Your Book?

September 28th, 2014

We authors can manufacture a lot of excuses for NOT spending time and expending energy promoting our books. Here are five of our faves:

  • I’d rather write (or I’m too busy writing).
  • I don’t have time.
  • I don’t like to bother people.
  • I don’t know how to promote my book.
  • I’ll start promoting my book once I finish this project (I get back from vacation, this crisis passes, my baby starts school, I quit my job…fill in the blank).

If you plan to write a book and expect to make sales, it is up to you—the author—to spread the word. If you are too busy to promote the book or promotion is distasteful to you, but you want a successful book project, find another outlet, hobby or project. Authorship is not for you.

If you want a successful project and are willing to do what it takes, consider the following:

  • Learn BEFORE publishing what book promotion entails. Read Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author by Patricia Fry, and other highly recommended books on book promotion.
  • Figure out before your book is a book, how to more effectively manage your life so there is time to promote your book—attend book festivals, visit bookstores, write press releases, contact book reviewers, establish and maintain a blog, etc.
  • Realize that if your book is a viable project, people will want to know about it.
  • Start promoting your book before it’s a book or put the publication of your book off until you have the time, space, and mindset to promote it properly.

 

Publishing/Marketing News and Views

September 23rd, 2014

Publishing/Marketing News and Views

Bringing you the information and resources you need to succeed.

September 2014, Volume 2, Issue 7

Editor: Patricia Fry

Why This Newsletter?

This newsletter has been a long time coming. With over forty years embedded in the world of writing, publishing and book promotion and a good twenty years working with and writing for other authors, I’ve finally accepted the requests of many to launch a newsletter. As you can see, this is the seventh issue. See them all here: http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog/?page_id=3081

What are my qualifications for writing this enewsletter? I’ve listed them below under “Patricia Fry’s Bio Roundup.” My first priority is to bring you the information and resources you need/want in order to become a more successful author. I realize that you are all at different stages and levels of writing, publishing, and marketing one or more books. Some of you are only interested in reading what others write. My goal is to address your concerns, interests, and questions related to publishing and books and to present you with a few surprises along the way.

This issue is dedicated to promoting your book through speaking gigs on radio, TV, and Internet podcasts. We’ll talk about doing your own webinars in order to bring attention to your nonfiction—or even fiction—book.

 

Included in this issue:

  • Editorial: What’s Happening in Patricia Fry’s Office—New Klepto Cat Mysteries
  • Author Scam at Amazon
  • Patricia’s Take on Offering FREE Copies of Your Book
  • Book Promotion Activity of the Month—Radio/TV/Internet Interviews
  • “Speaking Out Across the Airwaves”
  • “Viable Virtual Speaking Opportunities”
  • “Prepare For Your Author Appearances NOW”
  • Resources of the Month—Recommended Books and Sites
  • Patricia Fry’s Bio Roundup

(If you do not wish to receive information from Patricia Fry and Matilija Press, please use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the page.)

What’s Happening in Patricia Fry’s Office?

NEW!! Klepto Cat Mystery—Celebrity Cat Caper  (book number 6) is out on Kindle. Undercover Cat (number 4 in the series) is now in print. Order any Kindle or print Klepto Cat Mystery using this link: http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2 or go to www.amazon.com and type in “Klepto Cat Mysteries” at the prompt.

People ask how long it takes me to write a book. I’ve produced four books in the Klepto Cat Mystery series this year. Sleight of Paw in January, Undercover Cat in March, The Colony Cat Caper in June, and Celebrity Cat Caper in September. In between, I wrote a book for my publisher—one many of you will be interested in. It’s Propose Your Book, How to Craft Persuasive Proposals for Nonfiction, Fiction, and Children’s Books. I’ll be telling you more about it when it’s published, presumably in the first part of 2015.

So what am I doing to keep busy this month? I’ve just finished Klepto Cat Mystery number seven. It’s with the proofreader now and the cover designer is working up a design. This book is full of horse energy. But we haven’t slighted the cats. They still show up strong in this story, as well. I expect this book, Kittywampus Pals, to debut in October or November. While I’m waiting for my designer, I’m working on Klepto Cat Mystery number 8. This one takes place at the beach. Yes, Rags, the kleptomaniac cat is on vacation with his human family.

Author Scam at Amazon

I was shocked to see the print copies of my Klepto Cat Mysteries selling at Amazon.com for over twice the regular selling price. I offer these books at $8.95. Amazon sometimes discounts them to $8.50 or less. But evidently someone is buying my books from Amazon and selling them for $22.95. I’m appalled. But I guess this is an example of American commerce. Evidently, this goes on all over the Internet. Doesn’t seem right to me, but it’s one more reminder that we, as consumers, must be on our toes and study our buying options carefully.

Should You Offer Free Copies of Your Book?

My response to this question is yes and no. Amazon offers a promotion for their Kindle Direct Program members where you can offer free downloads of your book for a period of time. I figured this would be a good idea for someone with a series of books. It seemed like a great way to introduce people to my mystery series. So I offered Catnapped, the first in the series free for one day. I was stunned to learn that during that 24-hour period, Catnapped was downloaded FREE by over 8,000 (yes eight-thousand) people. During the same period, sales for that book quadrupled. I’m not sure why. I mean if readers could get it for free, why buy it on that day?

Have sales on the other books increased since the free promotion? It has been twenty-two days since the promotion and I have not seen a noticeable increase in sales. I’m not complaining about sales. Sales have been amazing!!! But offering the free book has not made a difference so far.

I’ve had some great reviews since the promotion. That’s a good thing. But why haven’t sales gone up considerably? I imagine it’s because people who download free ebooks have quite a load of them on their Kindles and it takes a while for them to read all of the books they’ve accumulated. I expect to give you a different report as time goes on. I’m convinced that when people read Catnapped, many of them will order the others in the series at $2.99 each.

Book Promotion Activity of the Month—Radio/TV/Internet Interviews

Today we’re going to discuss one of the best ways to get word out about your book—in person, front and center. Authors need to be visible. You must go where your readers are. One way to address large numbers of potential readers is through radio, TV, and Internet podcasts, interviews, webinars, etc.

Since this form of promotion is foreign to most authors and, at the same time, most desired, I’ve decided to make it a topic of discussion for this newsletter. For additional information, resources, anecdotes and so forth on this topic, order my book, Talk Up Your Book, How to Sell Your Book Through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences and More. It’s at Amazon in print, Kindle, and audio. Or purchase it at my website: http://www.matilijapress.com.

Speaking Out Across the Airwaves—Radio/TV

Do you listen to talk radio? Have you noticed that practically all of the guests on every show, no matter their topic, have books? A book has become as common to a professional as a business card used to be, and it is used as casually.

Whether I am listening to a talk radio program or watching one on TV related to spirituality, religion, parenting, politics, relationships, health, hoarding, the economy, or some aspect of self-help, every guest seems to be promoting a book on the subject. In most cases, however, these individuals did not speak on the topic until they came out with their books. They were not considered experts in their fields until they became authors. Now the former bank associate is doing radio interviews and TV appearances to talk about her book on childhood abuse, the chef shares his book of kitchen tips, the retired accountant travels around talking about his novel, and the factory-worker is promoting her true crime book.

Yes, there seems to be a flood of authors guesting on every talk show around. Do you wonder how they get the invitations? Even more importantly, do these appearances on radio and TV sell books?

Most authors, when they’re planning a book, expect to appear on TV shows like “Good Morning America,” “Live With Kelly,” “The Talk,” “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “The Daily Show,” “The View” and popular talk radio programs. Some of you will make it happen. These opportunities, however, are generally out of reach for most of us—the relatively unknown authors.

Please don’t let this discourage you from ever trying to get the major publicity that’s available out there. You might have written the book of the century—one that is of great interest to a large viewing audience. Sure you already believe this describes your book, but only a scant few of you are correct in your evaluation. The rest of us may be delusional. This doesn’t exempt you from getting publicity via radio and TV, however. Not at all. Most cities of any size support one or more radio stations and often they have talk shows scheduled throughout the day and night. You probably don’t have to travel far to locate a TV station with shows that host authors at least occasionally; and don’t discount public radio and TV stations.

I write within a strict niche, as many of you do. Yet, I’ve appeared on TV in Alaska and California. I’ve been interviewed numerous times on regular and public radio in many cities and blog talk radio (on the Internet). I have to tell you that being interviewed for radio or TV is a different experience from standing up and speaking to a group of people. In fact, most often (for radio) you give the interview from your home office (or wherever you happen to be) by phone. I’ve heard authors being interviewed while waiting for a flight, vacationing with family, recuperating from surgery and I’m sure some of them were still in their jammies. We’ve all seen people appear remotely on TV programs, as well. Skype is one technology that makes it possible for guests to appear on a TV station in Los Angeles from a remote location in another city or country.

How do you locate radio and TV interview opportunities? You’re probably familiar with some of the talk shows in your region. This is a good place to start. Check their websites for instructions for becoming a guest and follow the guidelines. Call and talk to the program director. If you speak to someone by phone, I suggest standing tall during the conversation, speaking clearly and as animated and friendly as your book topic dictates. The program director may be evaluating your voice and manner even during your initial contact. So put your best foot (or speaking voice and personality) forward.

Do an Internet search for additional radio and TV stations. Study directories such as, Gales Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media, Literary Marketplace and  books, such as Fran Silverman’s Talk Radio Wants You, An Intimate Guide to 700 Shows and How to Get Invited. Use references such as: The Radio Book http://www.theradiobook.com and consider getting listed with GuestFinder (http://www.guestfinder.com) or Radio-TV Interview Report http://www.rtir.com

Kim Dower is a literary publicist and media coach. She runs an agency called Kim-from-L.A. (http://www.kimfromla.com) She says, “I work with a variety of authors and all kinds of books getting them exposure through various types of media from radio, television, and print interviews to social and viral media outlets. I offer whatever they need in order to help prepare them for speeches, presentations, book signings—any situation where they find themselves in front of a camera, a microphone or an audience.”

Dower is in agreement that, “An author’s presentation is key to promoting their book. Successful authors know how to promote their books and this is a skill that can be learned. The key is to get readers/listeners/viewers turned on and excited by the ideas in the book and the passion and enthusiasm of the author.” She says, however, that, “with hundreds of thousands of books coming out each year and only so many media spaces available, you can imagine the odds aren’t in the author’s favor. The first category of people to get booked on shows is always celebrities. Always was and always will be. The next is breaking news and politics. What’s the latest disaster and what talking head can address it? ‘Softer’ topics—biographies, self-help, fiction come way, way down on the list. And we need a valuable ‘hook’ to get these authors booked. How does their topic fit into what’s going on the world today—now? What makes this author or their topic relevant? If the topic is strong and timely and the author is a great presenter and the book is provocative, we have half a chance of getting on the show.”

According to Dower, “Getting on smaller radio and TV shows is more realistic, but still difficult. An author needs a good, short pitch—one paragraph to describe the topic and why the author has the credentials or expertise to talk about it. And why is this topic important?” She also likes to challenge authors to “offer three provocative or newsworthy questions that they will answer during the interview.”

So what makes for a successful media appearance? Dower says, “Enthusiasm and passion and energy; delivering a few ‘take-aways’—some real tangible information that is new and interesting; leaving the audience with enough to make them like you and be interested in your book.” But she cautions, “Don’t give so much away that they have no reason to purchase it.”

Dower suggests using the Internet to find radio stations across the country that have talk shows. She says, “Research and listen to the show. Don’t try to get on a show you know nothing about.”

Viable Virtual Speaking Opps

Most authors will be interviewed for Blog Talk Radio, podcasts, webinars, teleseminars and so forth at some point during their promotional efforts.

The first thing you’ll want to know is, are these forms of promotion worthwhile? It depends on who you talk to. The problem is that sales and other benefits from some of these publicity methods are difficult or impossible to track. However, they do provide name recognition, and this is certainly a benefit to any author who wants to sell books.

Even before your book is a book, become acquainted with and known through appropriate websites. I’ve been saying this since before the popularity and ease of doing podcasts, webinars, etc. I continue to advise authors to seek out book reviews and interview opportunities throughout the Internet. So what is actually available and how can authors benefit?

First, study websites related to your topic or genre and discover how you can become involved. Remember, their visitors are your readers. Is there a newsletter that you can contribute to or place announcements in? Do they review books, interview authors, feature recommended books, or run a speakers bureau? Perhaps they record interviews with authors and post them at their sites. Once you have taken advantage of book promotion opportunities at some of the more obvious and even obscure websites in your field or genre, shift your attention to the world of social media.

Basic Social Media

Everyone is using social media today for personal and business purposes. While social media connections are generally made in writing, except for, perhaps, YouTube, I thought it useful to mention this extremely popular medium. You can, as a matter of fact, incorporate photographs and even videos into your social media messages and at your own website.

Most of you reading this are set up to communicate with your readers through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Authors@Google and so forth. You may (and should) have a blog. For those of you who don’t know, a blog is a web log that you can use to share information, stories, snippets from your life as an author and announcements for new books, scheduled speeches and so forth. It is a way to communicate with your readers. Not only can you have your own blog, but you can comment at or be interviewed on other blogs related to your book theme or genre. This puts you before a whole new group of potential customers.

When you become a nonfiction author, you are also considered an expert in your field. People want to read what you write and hear what you have to say. Why not add to your professional credibility by seeking interview opportunities at websites that feature podcasts, webinars, Blog Talk Radio and so forth?

Carol Sanford, author and public speaker, often lands radio interviews. Sanford is also active in landing radio interviews. She says, “I follow the people with radio blogs related to my topic and who do interviews with authors. I retweet their stuff and make myself useful to them. I also follow a lot of journalists who write in my field. Journalists were a great strategy for me. I get lots of press as a result of putting key ones on a Twitter List and staying connected to what they are writing, by tweeting it and commenting on their blogs and posts with links on my blog and Facebook pages.” According to Sanford, “Journalists are a good route for authors, since they are always looking for content.” But she cautions, “You have to give generously and be useful to them, if you are to receive from them.”

The Teleseminar

A teleseminar is a program—often an interview, a workshop or seminar—presented through a conference telephone call. People can call in and listen in real time (and in some cases, ask questions) and the seminar is generally recorded so people can go to a website and download the seminar or listen to it streamed from the website.

The Webinar

According to Stacy Harp, founder and president of Active Christian Media, “A webinar is simply a seminar that you hold on the Internet. Some webinars are listened to via the phone, and others you can watch by logging into the webinar using Skype or another computer phone interface. Webinars are becoming more and more popular. Because the technology has advanced so much, many businesses are no longer traveling to meet with their customers. Instead, these companies use webinars to train people and educate their customers.”

Harp says, “Webinars are also a great marketing tool for authors although, I don’t see many authors using webinars, yet. But they should, because they can sell more books this way. For example, if you have a book already published, a webinar would be a great way to have a virtual book club. You can even charge for the club if you want to make it exclusive, and the author can offer a special one-on-one time with their readers as a benefit.”

Harp explains that the process of setting up a webinar isn’t all that difficult. She says, “Anyone who can talk and record what they are saying, can technically create a webinar. What makes it a webinar is uploading it to the Internet and making it available on the web.”

According to Harp, “I think webinars are better when the presenter uses either video or at the very minimum PowerPoint or Key Note to make slides so that they can convey information visually, and not just via audio. One service I found recently is called Screencast-o-matic which you can use to record what’s on your computer, including showing a PowerPoint slideshow, and then you can edit it and upload it as a video. You can also use it as a webinar if you’d like, but it would not be a live presentation…it would have to be prerecorded. You can learn more at http://www.screencastomatic.com.”

Another resource, http://www.GotoWebinar.com

The Podcast

A podcast is a type of digital media that can be presented in both audio and video. Podcasts can be listened to or watched on portable media players. There is special software available to be used in creating podcasts or you can use Skype.

Skype

Harp gives us a lesson in Skype technology. She explains it this way. “Skype is the most popular voiceover Internet protocol service. Put simply, Skype is what most people use when they make Internet phone calls. All you need is a computer and a microphone and you can literally call anyone in the world using Skype’s platform. Generally, Skype is not used to do podcasting, as the actual term podcasting has nothing to do with recording a call or a video. However, what you record using Skype can be turned into a podcast. With Skype, you can make computer-to-computer calls with other Skype users, anywhere in the world, and it’s free. You can talk to these people with just your computer microphone or using your webcam.”

She says, “Skype also offers other features like your own phone number, text messaging

services, and the availability to use Skype to call someone who does not use Skype. For an author, I would highly recommend using Skype especially if they want to be a guest at a book club, host their own book club or even lead their own book club. If the people interested in hearing the author have a computer, it’s very easy to set up in a big or even a small venue, and ‘broadcast’ the event that way.”

Blog Talk Radio

There is also what’s known as Blog Talk Radio. Stacy Harp has her own Blog Talk Radio program called On the Wall Radio.

So how does Harp find guests? This is something you want to pay attention to—because these ideas should be a part of your strategy. She says, “I find most guests through press releases and publishing companies. Some people also like Help a Reporter Out, also known as HARO.” She advises, “I think the best things an author can do is make a press kit, blog, network online, and hire someone to do publicity for them if they can afford it. Be bold enough to hunt down talent you think would be a good fit for your book. Send show hosts information about your book: A press release with information about your blog and website, a pdf file of your book or a review copy. But before you send any of that, know your host—listen to the show, know the audience. Don’t take that platform for granted.”

Prepare for Your Author Appearances NOW

As I said earlier, it is possible to conduct an interview from home in your robe and bunny slippers or bathing suit and flip flops. I recommend dressing, however, and standing tall—no slouching. If you look professional, you will feel and act more professional. When you stand or, at least, sit up, you will come across sounding more alert. Smile—it will come through in your voice.

Barbara Florio-Graham suggests preparing for a telephone interview with a radio or blog talk radio show host this way, “Don’t use a cell phone during the interview. If you do telephone interviews often, invest in a headset. Make sure pets are comfortable in another room. I use post-it notes or other page tabs to mark the pages of my book that I might want to refer to and I print out the table of contents for easy reference. I have a page of notes based on the questions sent by the host earlier and I continually make notes so I will remember things I want to comment on.”

I work along the same lines as Florio-Graham. I never ever use a cell phone, unless I happen to be traveling and there is no other way. I always request the host’s list of questions or the topics he/she hopes to cover with me. I might also offer to send the host my suggested questions or line of questioning. They often appreciate that gesture.

During the interview, I make a lot of notes. Sometimes radio show hosts get involved in long narratives. By the time they finally come up with a question for you, you may have forgotten some of the things you wanted to comment on.

Jot down one- or two-word reminders. Don’t get so involved in writing notes that you neglect to listen to the host. You never know when a question will come up and your full attention is required. Have a bottle or glass of water nearby in case your throat gets dry.

While I suggest preparing thoroughly, there are simply some things that you cannot prepare for. Here’s a story from my radio show history file. I was contacted by an Internet radio show host who wanted me to “appear” on his show. Of course, I agreed. I learned a long time ago to always say, “yes.”

The day of the show, I realized I hadn’t heard from the host for a few weeks and I wanted to make sure we were still on. I emailed him. A few hours later, he responded by saying, “Yes, we’re on for 12:30 this afternoon.” (In a scant twenty minutes.) That’s when he told me the agenda. He said, “I will introduce you and then you take it from there. At exactly 1:15, I will break in and sign off.” What? I was supposed to just speak without a host asking me any questions? And I had twenty minutes to prepare?

Believe it or not, I nailed it. I managed to give a coherent presentation with a beginning, middle and end which I felt was extremely useful and informative to my audience. If someone had measured my stress level during the first few minutes of that “interview,” it would have been off the charts. Once I got in the groove, however, I did just fine. How does one succeed when given such a test?

When you are prepared—you know your material and you’re comfortable presenting it under normal circumstances—the rest is all attitude. If you’re thrown a curve like I was—you’re expected to perform at a moment’s notice, for example—just adopt your best “can-do” attitude and meet the challenge head on.

It’s hard to predict which books will be of interest to radio and television show hosts and what sort of connections you might make as you continue your quest for exposure. But knowing the potential for book sales through radio and TV, it seems reasonable that you would pursue this avenue of book promotion with some gusto.

Your Awesome Author Interview

So, you can create your own podcast or webinar. You can put on your own teleseminar. You can have your own Blog Talk Radio show. But most likely, at least in the beginning, you will be conducting interviews with people who use these methods of creating, preserving and sharing information on topics of their interest for their own websites.

Someone with a pet rescue site might contact you for an interview related to your new book on feral cats and cat colonies. The owner of a site focusing on everything bird-related, might want to interview you about your book on bird-watching. Certainly, if he hears about your book on serious Internet scams, the owner of Internet warning sites will want to interview you.

Or you might go in search of these opportunities. Scour sites on your topic. Here’s a directory of Blog Talk Radio sites you will want to check out. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/categories.aspx Interviews and interviewers come in all shapes and styles. Some interviewers want you to respond to questions via email and they post your interview as is at their site or publish it in their magazine. Others prefer to conduct a telephone interview which they will paraphrase in their publication. But the most popular interview processes today are the real time podcast and the online radio show.

Not everyone is comfortable being interviewed. Yet, if you expect your book to reach a high level of popularity—if you hope to sell thousands of copies of your book—you really must learn to handle the interview.

I have been interviewed numerous times in a variety of ways. Personally, I love the email interview where I just respond at my leisure by typing my answers. I like having the time to think about my responses and to reread them before submitting. My worst interview experience occurred when the interviewee, in a real-time interview, began challenging my responses—playing the devil’s advocate. I’m not a debater and I don’t do well under that kind of pressure. I had to work hard so as not to come off sounding defensive. I hope I was able to carry that off. Book sales after that interview were up and that’s always a good indication of a good interview.

You truly never know what to expect from an interview and maybe that’s one reason why the fear of the interview is so prevalent among authors.

If you would like to be interviewed on the topic of your book, here are some tips and techniques that could help:

  • Locate interview opportunities through websites and publications related to your topic as well as those that feature general author interviews. If you spend some time exploring the site, you will soon discover whether or not they conduct interviews. If you see no indication of interview opportunities, post an email asking for the opportunity.
  • Do a Google search to locate directories of websites and publications with general interview opportunities or those related to your expertise.
  • Study this directory in order to locate Blog Talk Radio opportunities. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/categories.aspx
  • Once you’ve located interview opportunities, create a succinct, but impressive bio to include with your inquiry. A potential interviewer will want to know that you are articulate (which should show through, at least to some degree, in your writing style), qualified, credible, knowledgeable, and interesting. A bio can help to portray this. A good interviewer who conducts live interviews will also want to hear your voice. So give your phone number, as well.

Handle yourself as a professional during any interview. Here are some tips:

  • Think like your target audience. What do they want/need to know about your subject? Even if your interviewer gets off track with his line of questions, you can bring the discussion back to the issue at hand. Always keep in mind, “What information and resources can I offer my audience?”
  • Don’t be afraid to give. It’s highly unlikely that you could ever give away too much during a thirty or sixty minute interview. Besides, the more you give, the more the listener will want. And it’s that yearning for more that will sell copies of your book.
  • Expand on each topic just enough, but don’t overdo it. Respond fully to questions, but avoid going off on a tangent.
  • Jot down several key phrases you’ll want to remember. Work them in when you get the chance.
  • Read and listen to other author interviews to get an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Of course, you want to keep your own style of speaking, but there are also mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
  • Practice speaking off the cuff. You will definitely need this skill when doing a live interview.
  • Have someone record or videotape you speaking and listen to/watch the recording with a critical ear. Is there anything you need to work on? Do you use too many filler words?

Authorship is a business just like being an insurance agent, a car dealer or manufacturer, an electrical contractor or a merchant. And there are certain responsibilities and requirements for success.

Resource of the Month

Talk Up Your Book, How to Sell Your Book Through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences and More. This is a must-have book for any author who wants to hone his or her speaking skills, learn how to land speaking opportunities, come up with speech topics, sell more books at book festivals, form a stronger bond with audiences, attract more people to their book signings, and ace those intimidating recorded presentations. Order your copy at http://www.amazon.com or at http://www.matilijapress.com. $19.95 print. Also available in audio and for your Kindle.

Patricia Fry’s Bio Roundup

I’ve been writing for publication for 40 years and I’m the author of 46 published books—most of them on publishing and book promotion. I maintain two blogs—one for authors, with over a daily publishing blog. The blog boasts over 2,000 posts to date: http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog. I also write a blog related to cats—through which I promote my Klepto Cat Mystery series and Catscapades, True Cat Tales. http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades

My articles have appeared in over 300 publications, including Writers Digest, Publishing Basics, Book Marketing Matters, Writer’s Journal, Cat Fancy, Your Health, Horse of Course, Western Horse, The Artist’s Magazine, Woman’s World, The World and I and many others.

I work with authors on their projects from an editorial standpoint.

Mission Statement: The primary purpose of this enewsletter is to bring information, resources and encouragement to fellow authors both beginners and experienced. It’s an education for authors who want to become more successful in a highly competitive industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Process and Power of Fiction-Writing

September 13th, 2014

I seemed destined to write nonfiction. The article fascinated me—how could so many different writers treat the same topic in so many different ways? My desire—my dream—was to write articles for magazines. And I did for many years. That’s how I made my living.

Over the years, I continued writing nonfiction books and articles on subjects I knew and those I wanted to research. Until one day, the fiction bug niggled at me. Many of you know I’ve been writing and publishing light mysteries (revved up cozy mysteries) now for two years. The sixth in the Klepto Cat Mystery series will debut soon. The seventh is completed and will go to the proofreader Monday. And yesterday I plotted out number eight.

I did the plotting a little differently this time. Usually I just start writing and watch the story unfold and the characters develop. This time, the complete story seemed to be whirling around in my head wanting to come out all at once. My writing was a bit stilted because the story was racing to be told and I couldn’t organize it in my mind fast enough to adequately tell it. What to do?

Yesterday, I sat down and outlined the plot in 45 segments—organizing my thoughts representing the progressive storyline. This exercise used up four and a half typewritten pages. Now I will refer to each section of the plot outline to guide me in writing the book. Now I can see what happens and what should happen next, and on and on. I can write in the details and nuances as I go—or later, if I decide to create the shell of the story first. Knowing my style, I will probably do a lot of fleshing out as I go along during the creation of the first draft. I generally wind up with 50,000 to 60,000 words after my first go-through.

How many times do I ultimately “go through” one of my fiction books? I should keep count because this is one of many questions I’m frequently asked. But I’d say no fewer than a dozen.

As a professional writer of nonfiction, I taught myself a process where I will self-edit numerous times for different purposes—focusing on different aspects each time. Once I feel the story is set, I’ll go over the manuscript again focusing mainly on punctuation—did I close all of the quotes and appropriately use commas, for example. I’ll go through checking for overuse of certain words and repeated words, as well as making sure certain slang and habitual words are attributed to certain characters. (You can’t have everyone using the same pet slang.) I might use one go-through concentrating mainly on character credibility. Is this the way that character would act/speak? Then I reread the story through a reader’s eyes—does it make sense, does it flow, can the reader visualize what I had in mind when I wrote it, is there just enough description/explanation, is the story told through action and dialog or am I putting too much of me in there?

I can write a novel in two months. My flow seems to be three and a half months per book and that’s with life’s flow and obligations—those things that interrupt your writing.

One thing I notice I don’t do is plan for future plots. I didn’t start thinking about the plot for the current book I’m working on—book eight—until I was halfway through with the editing for book seven. And I think that was because it was so hot. That’s when I decided that my little fictional family and their pet menagerie should spend some time on the coast. Then I had the task of trying to make this transition realistic.

I have to tell you, there’s power in storytelling—story-creation… I used to exert that power as a nonfiction writer. I could make readers think. I could change minds, even cause conflict and tension. As a writer of fiction, I can change a character’s mind, develop a new character, kill off a character, etc. at the strike of a key. And I can arouse a chuckle, a tear, even anger in my readers. That’s the power of the written word.