Book of the Month – July 2011

by Steve Laube

Small Message, Big Impact by Terri L. Sjodin is this month’s “Book of the Month.” I recommend that every veteran and aspiring writer read this book and glean from it.

The key to this book is in the subtitle: How to Put the Power of the Elevator Speech Effect to Work for You. Sjodin defines the elevator speech as:  “A brief presentation that introduces a product, service, philosophy, or an idea.  The name suggests the notion that the message should be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride, up to about three minutes.  Its general purpose is to intrigue and inspire a listener to want to hear more of the presenter’s complete proposition in the near future.”

For years I have been trying to hammer home the necessity of putting a book, either fiction or non-fiction into a sound bite. A quick and powerful presentation of the idea. One so strong that the shopper, the potential reader, is intrigued.

This is not an easy thing to learn but it is critical in this day and age of Distraction (with a capital “D”).

The author’s book is designed for the business world in sales and marketing but I believe it has wonderful application for authors.

Get a copy for yourself and then leave a comment here as to what you thought of the book. Hardback is about $15.50 as of this writing. The Kindle edition is $7.69. Nook edition is $7.99.

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Build it Before They Come

If you want to be a published writer, realize that someone will look for you on the web. Agents will Google your name. I guarantee that editors and marketing folks will visit your web site to find out more about you.

Thus your web site needs to be both professional and effective. It is a bit like putting on your “Sunday Best” before going to an interview. That first impression is critical.

Allow me to share unscientific, subjective thoughts regarding a few elements I especially enjoy as an agent learning about writers through their web sites:

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The Care and Feeding of … WORDS!

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
Pearl Strachan

“By words the mind is winged.”
Aristophanes

“The turn of a sentence has decided the fate of many a friendship, and, for aught that we know, the fate of many a kingdom.”
Jeremy Bentham

Amazing, isn’t it? Something so small as words can have such huge impact.

The right word in any circumstance can bring peace, comfort, laughter, tears. It can elicit emotion, stir action, deliver forgiveness, change lives. For generations, words have moved and motivated. Writers, steeped in the wonder of words, have poured their hearts out on stark paper, only to have those pages come to life in ways they never imagined, and to have their words live on in the hearts and minds of readers long after they’ve been read.

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News You Can Use

A $30 iPad…for kids? – take a look at the new anaPad. Have to admire the entrepreneur, even when the idea seems a little odd.

Twitter Profile Mistakes – Excellent advice for writers who tweet.

Andrew Wylie in the Wall Street Journal Magazine – See what this uberagent has to say about the future of publishing. Especially note his thoughts on the global market.

Would James Joyce have used an iPad? – An interesting look at a “classic” writer and what tools he might have used today.

Top Ten Misused English Words – A great list. Any words you would add? (Calvary vs. Cavalry…)

Take a gander at this fascinating infographic comparing Walmart and Amazon.

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Many Happy(?) Returns!

by Steve Laube

Every first-time author is confronted by the reality of “Reserves Against Returns” as part of publishing economics. It is usually a shock and elicits a phone call to their agent crying “What happened to my money?”

Did you realize that book publishing is the only “hard goods” industry where the product sold by the supplier to a vendor can be returned? This does not happen with electronics, clothing, shoes, handbags, cars, tires…you name it. If it is a durable good the vendor who buys it, owns it (which is why there are Outlet Malls – to sell the remaining inventory). Except for books. Somewhere along the line the publishers agreed to allow stores to return unsold inventory for credit. In one sense, publishers are selling their books on consignment. Bargain books are actually resold by the publisher (after getting returns or to reduce overprinted inventory) to a new specialty bargain bookseller or division of a chain (which buys the bargain books non-returnable).

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Letting Go of Your Babies

One of the worst mistakes writers can make is being too possessive of their words. They fight for each adjective, adverb, and conversation tag.

My early writing suffered from too many words. I once wrote an artist didn’t “really” understand the difficulties of making a living in his profession. The editor kindly cut all instances of “really,” “just,” “so,” “very,” and other weak words experienced editors call “weasel” words.

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Print: A Thing of the Past?

by Karen Ball

Remember the musical Oklahoma? Gordon MacRae singing to, of all people, Rod Steiger: “Poor Jud is daid, poor Jud Fry is daid…”

Well, the way folks have been talking lately, I’m waiting for the new musical, “Digital World,” where a Gordon MacRae-esque editor will stand next to a book and sing out, “Poor print is daid, poor print books is daid, they’re lookin’ oh, so tattered and passé…”

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News You Can Use

by Steve Laube

Thirty Three Twitter Feeds to Follow – The folks at Poets & Writers put together a helpful list of publishing and writing oriented twitter feeds to follow.

Kindle Spam Clogging Amazon – What a mess. Fake compiled books are being uploaded on the Kindle digital platform and sold to unsuspecting people. Another argument for Curation.

Google Books Creates Affiliate Program – Click this to apply to become a sales affiliate for Google Books. Similar to the Amazon program. At least it gives you an alternative if your state has been shut out by Amazon’s war with State Departments of Revenue.

Turn Off Your Phone – Donald Miller seeks out the secret to productivity. Simple but effective.

How Many of Your Facebook Friends do You Know? – Tech Crunch summarizes a Pew Research Study. They claim, “Facebook users have about 229 Friends, with about 22% of their total Friends list being comprised of people they know from high school, 12% extended family, 10% coworkers, 9% college friends, 8% immediate family, 7% people from extracurricular groups and 2% being neighbors.” I guess I’m not normal.

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