Jul

12

2012

Getting Our Books Into the Hands of Readers

Guest blog by Debby Mayne

Debby Mayne with her agent, Tamela Hancock Murray

Our guest today is Debby Mayne, an accomplished novelist with over 30 books and novellas published since 2000! She has also publshed over 400 short stories and a slew of devotions for women. She has also worked as managing editor of a national health magazine, product information writer for HSN, a creative writing instructor for Long Ridge Writers Group, and a copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. For many years she has judged the Writers Digest Annual Competition, Short-Short Contest, and Self-Published Book Competition.

You can visit her web site at www.debbymayne.com.

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Before I sold my first novel, I dreamed that once I wrote a book good enough to publish, an editor would call me immediately, tell me how brilliant my book was, offer to buy it, and maybe request a few revisions that’d I’d joyfully do (after I deposited my humongous advance that would cover hiring a publicist and purchasing a big house on the water). Then the publisher would print the book, and the marketing team would make sure it was available for people to purchase. I envisioned full window displays of my book at my favorite stores with people lining up to buy them…and of course I was sitting at a table signing my books as quickly as possible to keep the crowd moving.

I know, but remember this was a dream.

Eventually, an editor did call and say she loved my story, but I needed to address a few issues—and we talked for almost an hour before she sent pages of revisions. Oh, and she offered a humbling advance that didn’t stretch far enough to cover promotion or much more than my next mortgage payment. Of course I was happy to accept the offer, but my perspective changed.

I’ve made bookstores and libraries my second home since I could read, but the first time I walked into a bookstore as a published author, I saw everything differently. Every row in the fiction section had hundreds (thousands?) of books that were all written by capable authors who wanted the same thing I did. It quickly became evident that I needed to finish what I started. I wrote the book for people to read, and now it was up to me to make sure that happened.

I’m fortunate that the publishers I work with have expert marketing teams who know how to get the product out there, so I don’t have to worry about the lack of availability. As a former newspaper public relations rep, I understand the value of publicity. I don’t have a problem talking to people, and I have a pretty good idea how to get word out to the masses. However, I don’t have a corporate size budget, so I have to decide what will work best for each book as it comes out.

Over the past twelve years as a published writer, I’ve watched successful authors, adopted some of their promotional ideas, and come up with a few of my own. Here are some of the things authors can do to promote their books:

  1. Have a web presence. Most published authors I know have a website, a blog, and participate in blog tours to generate interest in their books.
  2. Get social. Participate in social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and don’t always make it about yourself. Sometimes others like to know you care what’s going on in their lives as well.
  3. Let people know what’s coming. I like to send postcards to all the people on my mailing list so they’ll receive them a week or two before my book is due to release. Some authors send them earlier, but I don’t want to do the mailing too soon and risk people forgetting about the book.
  4. Partner with booksellers. I let all the booksellers in my area know when I’m about to have a new release. Sometimes I do a signing, but other times I just provide bookmarks and offer to sign stock when it comes in. If they’re allowed to accept review books (and most are), I offer one of my author copies to the bookseller.
  5. Talk to people. I’m an avid reader, so I spend hours and hours perusing the shelves for something new to read. If someone else is in the same row, I try to find a way to strike up a conversation. Sometimes I comment on a book they’re examining, or I might ask what types of books they like and recommend something by an author I know. I might even ask them for a recommendation. At some point, I try to find a way to let them know I’m an author. If the store has any of my books in stock, I point them out if it’s not too awkward. If you’re shy, you may have a difficult time approaching strangers, but I recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and giving it a try. Once you realize most readers are open to your suggestions, you might find it enjoyable.
  6. Look for interview opportunities. Contact your radio and TV stations, newspapers, and regional magazines. Let them know you’re available for interviews. If you’re doing a special event, ask if they might consider covering it.
  7. Target your market. Some of my most recent releases have been regional, so I do everything I can to get my books into the hands of people from those areas. After I received author copies of Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida, I drove down to this beautiful little beach town. I hand-delivered a copy of the book and a stack of postcards to the mayor, the city communications director, and the owners of two restaurants I mentioned in the book. Since this was a Christian romance, I stopped by a couple of churches and gave copies to people in the offices. Another book, Sweet Baklava, was set in the Greek community of Tarpon Springs. In addition to bringing copies of the book to several of the places I mentioned in the story, I brought some samples of baklava. I like to leave a few postcards to anyone who is willing to read my book to make it easier for them to get the word out to their friends.
  8. Keep a book handy and be generous. I try to keep at least one or two of my older books in my car so I can offer them to people who might enjoy them. Most people like free stuff, and this gives me an opportunity to share something with new friends who will hopefully become fans. I try to make room in my carryon luggage for a few books, just in case I meet someone who forgot to bring their own reading material. Before I leave a hotel, I leave a generous tip beside a signed copy of my latest book.
  9. Join the club. Or at least offer to be a guest speaker at reading groups and book clubs in your area. Have a list of discussion questions on your website so members can print and have them available. Bring door prizes that can be one of your older books or something symbolic from the current book.
  10. Benefit others. Offer some sort of charity tie-in and give to others. Use your story as a tool to teach readers what you’re passionate about, and then give a portion of your earnings to that charity. Even if you choose not to tell people about your donation, your passion for the cause will come through in the story, and you may actually have a positive impact on someone else’s life.

My strategy varies with each book I write. I think the key is coming up with a marketing plan that is doable and gets the attention of the target audience. Figure out how much money and time you have to commit to promoting your books and make a list of what you need to do.

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Debby’s latest novel came out on July 1st in a digital first release from B&H Publishing as part of the Bloomfield series. Click the cover below and get your copy today for only $2.99!

Jul

11

2012

It’s Official – Thomas Nelson is Now Owned by HarperCollins

The sale of Thomas Nelson is now official.

From the press release:
“Thomas Nelson will continue to operate as an independent company with its unique editorial focus on inspirational and Christian content. Details, such as how Thomas Nelson will benefit from HarperCollins global print and digital platform, will be forthcoming.”

And if you were not aware, Zondervan Publisher is also owned by HarperCollins (purchased in 1988). This means two of the largest Christian publishers in the world are under the same corporate roof.

Last year I wrote some thoughts on the sale of Thomas Nelson to HarperCollins. Read those again to refresh your memory. www.stevelaube.com/perspective_sale_thomas_nelson_publishers

In other recent news, the parent company of HarperCollins, News Corp., said it was seriously exploring the idea of splitting into two different companies, one an entertainment business (TV, etc.) and the other a publishing business (newspapers, books, etc.).

[ Read More → ]

Jul

11

2012

Does God need a Makeover?

by Karen Ball

I have had some interesting conversations over the last few weeks with several different authors about the fact that God often doesn’t do things the way we expect. In fact, there are times when God’s ways—and the ways of those He used–seem…

Strange.

Unfair.

Even–dare I say it?–wrong.

Think about it.

The person who came to work in the field just before the day ended got paid the same as the folks who’d worked all day.

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so he wouldn’t let the Israelites go.

God promised Abram and Isaac that their descendants would be more than the sands on the beach…and gave them wives who were barren.

God gave a prophecy to Rebekah about Jacob, which she “helped along” by some of the most blatant favoritism found in Scripture.

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Jul

10

2012

News You Can Use – July 10, 2012

Publishing on the Cloud is the Next Big Thing! – Mike Shatzkin writes yet another brilliant analysis of our industry.

Give Your Work Away for Free – Derek Webb makes an argument that “free” will end up making you money. Seth Godin used the same principle in some of his promotions. The difference is that Webb is talking about music. However, the music business and the book business are not equal. Do you agree or disagree?

Do Christian Bookstores Have too Much Power Over Content? – Rachel Held Evans expresses her opinion that they do. The topic is guaranteed to generate visceral reactions against the Christian bookstores. Be careful not to lump all stores into one generality.

The Rumors of the Death of Publishing Have Been Greatly Exaggerated – Vicki Hartley presented a sunnier picture. I happen to agree with her.

16 Tips on How to Survive and Thrive as a Writer – Brian Feinblum provides some sage advice.

The “God Particle” – Joe Carter posts an invaluable explanation of this new scientific discovery. And if it still beyond comprehension watch the seven minute tutorial at the end of his post.

Top 10 Zombie Scenes in the Bible – Bet that headline will make you click through to see what Michael Gilmour came up with!

[ Read More → ]

Jul

9

2012

Can You Plagiarize Yourself?

by Steve Laube

Recently John Lehrer of “The New Yorker” was discovered to have reused past material for his articles and his bestselling book Imagine: How Creativity Works.  Here are links to the articles unveiling the controversy. From Jim Romenesko, Jacob Silverman, and Edward Champion. There has been considerable outrage and a genuine apology from John Lehrer.

This incident begs the question, “Can you plagiarize yourself?”

First you have to define plagiarism. The traditional definition is copying someone else’s words word-for-word without acknowledged of some kind, intentionally or not. In the United States this is actually illegal.

But what if the words are your own?

[ Read More → ]

Jul

6

2012

Fun Fridays – July 6, 2012

Where in the World is Matt – 2012 Edition

This five minute world tour is guaranteed to make you smile. Don’t skip to it, but wait for the 4:08 mark for something special.

And if you missed the original, here is the 2008 Edition:

[ Read More → ]

Jul

5

2012

A Few Tips on Social Media

by Tamela Hancock Murray

This may seem like an interruption to my series on writing proposals, but it is not. I plan to address the Marketing section of a proposal in the near future. However, before writers can think about marketing in general, they need to understand social media because an author who has mastered social media will be more attractive to a publisher. They want to partner with savvy authors. Thomas Umstattd addressed some of these in a blog in February called “Seven Ways Agents Measure Social Media.”  So the tips below may be a quick review for many, but it bears repeating since it has become such an important piece of the marketing puzzle.

Google

Find out how you look on Google. Do a Google search on your name on a regular basis to see what appears. You won’t be able to control everything that comes up under your name, but work with your webmaster to be sure your web site appears at the top. This is especially helpful if you had to purchase a domain that’s not entirely obvious such as, “ImaWriterWrites” because your name alone was already taken. A regular search will also help you identify anything slanderous, libelous, or (more likely) just plain inaccurate so you can take action to have those links removed. Searching your name should also reveal if there is another author with a name similar to yours. If you find this is true, I recommend simply mentioning the fact in your proposal to make the agent aware so the two of you can decide whether or not to choose a pen name.

It’s a good idea to set up Google Alerts on your name (instructions here). Google will send you an email anytime a new page on the Internet mentions you or your books.

[ Read More → ]

Jul

4

2012

Jul

4

2012

A Deep Appreciation

by Karen Ball


I have a soul-deep appreciation for those in the military. My grandfather and two uncles served in the Army. My dad in the Navy. My older brother in the Marines. But even without these family ties, I would find there’s just something wondrous about those who place their lives in harm’s way for the rest of us. These are the warriors who have made America a land of liberty. A land based on deep faith and strong morals and the unending drive to lift those who have fallen, free those who are oppressed, and stand as a beacon in a dark and weary world. America has it’s challenges, especially in recent years. But friends, this is an amazing country we live in. I’m proud to be an American. And I’m honored to support our warriors, whatever branch of the service they’re in. May God touch each of you, keep you safe, and bless you for all you’ve given to your country.

Thank you for your service.

And now I want to share with you all a remarkable singing group. If you haven’t discovered 4Troops and the story behind this group, check them out. And be sure to watch this video “for Freedom.” I guarantee, you’ll be moved.

A blessed 4th to you all!

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Jul

3

2012

News You Can Use – July 3, 2012

What Retailers Know that Publishers Need to Know – Mike Shatzkin analyzes the importance of data in what is truly the “Science of Bookselling.”

Your Hotel Bible is now a Kindle – This is a new one. Kindles in the nightstand in your hotel room with the Bible pre-loaded. Fascinating.

Using Evernote for Screenwriting – Brilliant adaptation of the Evernote software by Héctor Cabello Reyes.

The Incredible Resilience of Books – Peter Onos wrote a great article that the naysayers quickly skewered. Which side of the debate do you land on?

Thou Shalt Not Steal Shaun Groves Music – The artist makes a statement “If everyone stops paying for music, then music will stop being made.” Do you agree? Does it apply to books as well?

Solve Mysterious Bible Passages like Sherlock Holmes - Eric McKiddie writes a very clever article. Well done!

Be Your Agent’s Dream Client – Agent Greg Johnson tells it straight. (from the ACFW blog)

Bacon for Calvinists! (Thank you Kevin DeYoung)- see below:

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