Monday, August 13, 2012

So You've Hooked A Publisher

A lot of author’s believe that after their book has been picked up by a publishing house their work is done, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, especially if you’re working with a smaller press.

The publishing business has changed drastically over the last ten years and there’s no changing it back. Authors have to be extremely present when marketing their books. They have to be willing to not only give up time to social media, but to traveling for book signings, readings, interviews, etc.

And for many authors, this is on top of a day job and writing their next book. So how important is it for you to come into the marketing phase with the right mindset? Incredibly. Prepare for packed days and short nights.

Small presses will want to know how available you are even before they accept your project. They’re looking for your will to work for it, your ability to build a following and sell copies. Some publishers even encourage their authors to look into hiring their own publicists. They’ll ask for investment money too, and are more likely to publish your book if you can give it to them.

So, it’s not the magical whirlwind publishing that you pictured, but these are the facts. In the end, publishers need to know that they’ll get back whatever they spend on your book. You’re an investment; make sure they know you’re a good one.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Promoting Your Business With Instagram

Hey everyone; I’ve got a guest post for you today about the latest successful addition to the world of social media—Instagram. As authors of the eBook-era know, participation in social media sites sells books. We all knew the luxury of recluse-living would come to an end, and now that it’s upon us, what can we do but throw ourselves into it wholeheartedly? We must, and our guest blogger has some great advice on how to build a following and a customer-base (a reader-base), with Instagram.

Instagram is an app that most of us are familiar with by now, and with such a rapidly expanding international user base, it’s no wonder why.  This app deals with photography—a popular form of media in nearly every culture—and allows its users to add a variety of interesting special effects to their images before sharing them with followers.

This app can be much more than another novelty app, though. It can be a tool for promoting your business. Big brand names have already begun realizing this and utilize the power of Instagram as a mechanism for public relations and to give their brand name increased exposure. Below are just a few ideas to increase your customer-base through Instagram:

Promote an Upcoming Event
Use the sharing power of social media to encourage attendance. Share photos of the planning and set-up process. Get them involved in the event before it even happens! And by inviting users to upload and share photos taken during the event (with hashtags, connecting them to your company profile), you will immediately instigate conversation, target new audiences, and spread the word about your brand.

Create a Photo Competition
Encourage your followers to send in entries in the hopes of winning a prize. Providing you make the prize appealing enough, you can expect a good response, particularly as users share their entries through other social media outlets. Responding to as many entries as possible will also encourage more users to participate and help spread the word. If done right, this could seriously increase your number of potential customers.

Share Insight
Give your followers (your potential customers) a look into what happens behind the scenes in your business. Many businesses have already begun taking advantage of this concept and post photos from inside their offices. This demonstrates how their businesses run by showing the day to day operations, how particular tasks are dealt with, and how products or services are produced. Such photos can give followers insight into the way your business operates, allowing them to make a more personal connection with your brand.

Word spreads quickly in social media, because social media sites—like Instagram—are important to the public, to your customers, and should therefore be important to you and your business.

There were a little over 15 million users of Instagram at the beginning of 2012 and that number has already exploded to over 80 million within just six months. People love sharing photos—and that’s a fact. And because Instagram and other forms of social media are the most popular ways of doing this, smart businesses will take advantage of it. Will yours be one of them?

Check out the Instagram app and see what it can do for your business today.

Steve writes for – a website designed to help increase your Instagram Likes or Instagram following.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Leave Loose Ends Looser

Some novelists struggle most with the ends of their books, writing multiple draftsall of which turn out just as crappy as the first. The good news is that the Bests have this same problem. The bad news is that you’ll never finish your book unless you stop trying to make it perfect.

All your creative writing teachers—not to mention your impossible-to-please critique group—have told you once if not a hundred times that you need to tie up those loose ends. And while, for the most part, they’re right, if your readers stick with you till the end, you better give ‘em some answers!

BUT, don’t worry about delivering absolute resolution. If you want readers to be thinking about your message after the last page, then you have to leave them with something to wonder at. Happily Ever After is nice for Disney, but it’s the death of your characters. Readers can easily shelve your novel, and walk away with the empty satisfaction of seeing something to its end.

I’m not saying happy endings can’t be brilliant ends, but Happily Ever After can't. It says “the most important part of my characters’ lives are over and they will do nothing else challenging for the rest of their lives, but they’re happy forever, so it’s okay”. No. That is not okay.

If your book is to have any lasting impact, those loose ends have to be tied with room to slip. Perhaps the bad guy still has too many followers; perhaps the protagonist’s brother died, leaving emotional struggles for him to work through; perhaps they’re still not over what happened in the book but they’re moving on to the best of their ability.

In all of these scenarios, the end of the book is more like the end of a chapter in the protagonist’s life. But what if you don’t want to write a sequel? Okay, don’t. Really, it’s not necessary as long as you've written and ended your story in a way that leaves the reader feeling confident in the protagonist’s ability to handle that future.

Readers want to know that your characters have conquered what they set out to conquer, and that they will be able to take on whatever may come beyond the back cover.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Fine Line

There’s a fine line between telling your readers too much and not enough, and your publisher won’t ask you to pick a side; he’ll tell you to tightrope the thing over Niagara Falls and back.

So how do you, you know, do this impossible task?

Well, you need to take a good hard look at the scene you're writing and ask yourself: If the vein is pulsating visibly in Jack Rager’s head…do I reallyneed to say he’s angry, too? Can’t they see that? Haven’t I shown them enough?? He just punched a mirror for goodness sake! He has shards of glass poking out of his knuckles!—Get the point?

The best way to assure that you’re not explaining too much and your readers can still understand the scene is to describe the physical details vividly. Yes, add some key commentary into the scene, don’t lose your protagonist’s viewpoint, but show, show, show!

If Rager’s pulsing veins and bloody fist aren’t enough, then nothing will satisfy the reader.

Most importantly, remember not to underestimate your reader. Our brains naturally fill in details between the lines. If you tell them Jack Rager was leaving footprints in the dust of the foyer of the abandoned house of St. Holy Lane, then they’ll already be creating the rest of the picture for you. They’ll see the dead rat in the corner, the eerie moonlight exposing a broken chair by the wall and the scratches disappearing beneath the basement door.

Read back through some of your favorite books and see how much detail they provided and compare that with what you were imagining. It’s quite different, you’ll find, and it’s the reason why when we watch the movie interpretations of these same books, we don’t always understand the director’s choice in sets. “Where’s the broken chair?” we ask. “And there shouldn’t be a hallway there; that’s where the hairless cat painting hung!”

In the end, if there’s something we should’ve said or said too much about, it’ll be someone else that catches it. After all, we knew all along that the reason why Jack hated everybody and everything to do with art was because his mother never liked the finger paintings he brought home from preschool, but sometimes we forget that the reader doesn’t also know this, too, and that’s okay.

Leave it to your trusted first reader to pick out these things. By all means, be as proactive as possible. Make checklists and charts and sticky-note reminders, but make sure you let someone else (preferably someone with a background in writing) read it before you waste your time and money on stamps and SASEs.

You can’t catch everything, but two heads are, most certainly, still better than one.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Our So-Called Social Life

“Thank God for social networking,” a writer friend said to me recently. “That’s about all the social life I can handle!”

I’m sure your first thoughts were like mine…Oh how sad…Social networking doesn’t really count…SO GLAD I’m not like that…

But if you’re in the midst of writing a new book, as I am, then chances are that you are “like that”. At least for the time being.

To others, it may seem like you’re sacrificing your relationships for a dark room and a laptop. But those of us that write know that that’s not true at all—sometimes we like to write in bright rooms, too!

And even then, we may be spending less time with friends and family, but it’s for their own good!

Imagine, you’ve just stopped in the middle of a chapter—just as your juices were really starting to flow, too!—because Michael and Sally wanted to grab lunch and catch up. This is a hypothetical situation that won’t end well for anyone involved.

You, as the author, will invariably have your mind off in your book, with your characters, in their current predicament, trying not to lose the emotion of the scene or forget to add in that detail you just thought of and—does anyone have a pen? What? No, I just need to make a note on my napkin…What were you saying?

As for Michael and Sally, well, they’ll be having lunchtime conversation with only half of your conscious mind. It’s just not fair to you or them.

Don’t completely shun everyone and lock yourself away until you’re work’s complete—seriously, don’t—but a few lunch dates will have to be surrendered.

True friends and family will still be there at the completion of you book or project, I promise! But for now, thank God for social networking!

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