Now that you have a publisher, they will do the marketing, and you can sit back and relax, right? Wrong! With budgets for promotion shrinking,you have to be able to do your bit to promote your own book. Your goal has to be mainstream book placement of your books:
- The Critic’s Bookshelf For $179, the Critic’s Bookshelf affords you the opportunity to showcase your book in a monthly e-catalog that will be sent via email to book reviewers at print and Internet magazines, daily and community newspapers, television and radio stations, online blogs, etc. – just over 1,000 book reviewers in total! Even if two reviewers get back to you, it is money well spent, IMO.
- Review Direct, a marketing campaign that delivers your title information to two of the industry’s most sought after sales channels – libraries and Indie bookstores.
- Target online book clubs like Book Reporter which will, for a fee, target book clubs around the US by providing newsletters, reviews, and reader guides to put your book out there.
- List a free book on Goodreads. Potential readers signing up for the book is free publicity. A percentage of the readers will check out your website too.
- Get on book related social media sites like Shelfari.
- Search for industry-targeted newsletters on yahoo and google that are distributed to indie booksellers around the country.
Other things you can do:
- Bookmarks with the cover of your book and a blurb are great marketing tools. Leave next to check out in bookstores.
- The Frugal Book Promotor. I haven’t got my hands on this book as yet, but the buzz is good. If you have anything to share on this, please leave a comment.
- Get on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and profile of Google.
- Check out this link for tips on how to tap the Facebook customer base.
- Get a blog. Update a few times each week.
- Become the ‘go to’ person in your field – direct traffic to your blog. Start by submitting clips of your book to various publications, even small ones. Don’t forget to plug in your book and/or blog.
- Comment on other websites so they can link back to your blog.
- Register on Open Directory, an internet directory for websites.
- Add your blog to Networked Blogs, a web directory for blogs.
- Send out copies to local newspapers for review.
Ask online reviewers if they’d be willing to review your book. A few that I know of:
The internet can be a great resource, but it pays to err on the side of caution. I recently came across AuthorSphere. This could well be a legit site, but I have no personal knowledge of it. If anyone knows of this, please let me know.
I expect to keep adding to this post. Come back and check.
A few publishers, mostly the smaller presses, do accept direct submission of manuscripts, though going the literary agent route is a better bet. Poets & Writers maintains a list of small presses. Useful for writers short stories and poets too.
For unsolicited submissions at major publishers, here are a few options:
Counterpoint Press Indie publisher
DAW/Penguin Fantasy/Sci fi
Mundania Press I’ve come across this only recently, so please do check out before submitting.
American Booksellers Association is a great resource. It represents independent bookstores across the US.
Purists have traditionally turned turned their noses up at self-publishing, mostly seen as a route for those who cannot get published the traditional way. While there is some truth to this (think of all the badly edited, badly plotted books out there) Karen McQuestion has forged a new path. She wrote and published 5 books over seven years on Amazon’s Kindle. Purely word of mouth drove her books. Now one of her books has been optioned for a film. Not bad for a self-published author. She credits her success to Kindle Boards and Amazon’s message boards. I guess what it comes down to is name recognition – in other words – networking. She visits, and leaves comments on heavily visited websites, blogs and message boards.
J. A. Konrath, that other guru to self publishing, has generously put together a free publishing guide for us newbies. Click to here download his pdf file.
So what does Konrath have to say about self-publishing? He still recommends you go with an established literary agent – till you can figure out what you’re doing. Again from Konrath‘s website: “Then again, if your goal is to simply have your book available, and to maybe make a few bucks, then visit Smashwords.com. You can upload your ebooks for free, set your own price, and they’ll upload them to Amazon, B&N, Sony, Apple, etc. I recommend keeping your price under $3. I also recommend using pros to do the art and formatting. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars for cover art, a few hundred for ebook formatting, and a few hundred for print formatting.”
The Hyderabad Literary Festival of 2010 is here, folks! After years of enviously watching people in other towns attend similar festivals, we finally have one of our own. Register. Make sure you attend, so the Festival can come back next year. See you there from Dec 12-14.
My number one book for writers, and this opinion has not changed despite the volume of books I read, is:
1. Self Editing for Fiction Writers. Renni Browne and Dave King.
Others, in no particular order, are:
2. Writing Down The Bones. Freeing The Writer Within. Natalie Goldberg.
3. How to Write a Damn Good Novel. James N. Frey.
4. Techniques of the Selling Writer. Dwight V. Swain.
5. Bird by Bird. Anne Lamott. An inspirational book.
6. The Forest for the Trees. An Editor’s Advice to Writers. Betsy Lerner.
7. The Artist’s Way. Julia Cameron.
8. The Flip Dictionary. Barbara Ann Kipfer. A modern Roget’s thesaurus.
And how could I omit On Writing, Stephen King’s terrific little memoir (and a great inspiration)?
Follow submission guidelines. Every agent interview I’ve read stresses this fact. If the agent doesn’t want attachment, and most don’t, that’s what you do. They will tell you what they want in addition to a query – read this carefully. Some want a 1 page synopsis, others 4. A few want the first few pages of your manuscript (they’ll specify the number).
It is going to do you no good it if you submit your collection of short stories to an agent who is looking for historical fiction. How do you figure this out? Check their website. If they do not have a website, Agent Query is an excellent place to start.
Since my interest is fiction, I have no knowledge of book proposals (which you need for non-fiction). For fiction, you need to have a completed manuscript before you query an agent. Absolutely.
Check to make sure the agent is not tagged on Preditors and Editors.
You also need to know the word count, the genre your book fits best in. Don’t say your book is historical and romance and chicklit and whatever. It has to be one genre.
Make sure your manuscript is as polished as can be. You are going to get only one chance at this. Make use of it. Get more than one person – not your mother, not your husband/wife – to critique your work, preferably, other writers. If you have no local access, sign up online. One of the best ones I know (its been featured on the Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Resources for Writers) is the The Internet Writing Workshop. It has lots of critique groups, and members from newbies to the very experienced. Disclaimer: I’m a member of the IWW.
Your opening paragraph – and I can’t stress this enough – has to be able to grab you by the throat and not let go. In our 5-sec-flip-the-channel-if-it-doesn’t-hold-interest generation, we do not have the luxury of endless exposition. Unless your book is literary, it has to be a page turner. Tighten your prose, prune those adverbs, work on that show-not-tell . There is no way around it.
Above all, a killer query. More on queries in another post.
If you live outside of the United States (or places where they have writers conferences and you get to meet agents), it can be hard to find an agent. But not impossible. There are lots of resources on the web.
- Sign up for the Guide to Literary Agents newsletter. You get introduced to lots of agents, established and new.
- Sign up for the Publishers Lunch newsletter. You’ll get to know what various agents are up to (among other things).
- If you have the money, or access to a library, the Writers Market is an excellent resource.
IMHO you really don’t need any paid resources. If you’re not getting a hit on your query, it probably means that a) your query is not strong enough, or b) your manuscript needs more work.
Some things to watch out for:
- You should never have to pay an agent to read your work. Most of the US based agents are members of AAR (Association of Authors’ Representatives). Not to say the ones that are not part of this organization are not legit, but if they are associated with the AAR, you have an additional safety net.
- There are a lot of scam artists around. There are also legit agents who are plain incompetent, which means they may not be able to negotiate the best possible deal for you. Before you sign up, read the fine print. Research author friendly contracts. Check to see what kind of sales they have made. If you can’t find any on their website, ask. Get client referrals.
Useful websites on agents:
- Preditors and Editors. Tells you about good and bad agents.
- Agent Query. If the agent is listed here, chances are the agent is not a scam artist. Whether s/he is competent or not is another story altogether.
- SFWAs Writers Beware.
- Miss Snark. She no longer posts, but what she does have there is useful.
So you have a completed manuscript, hopefully critiqued for plot holes and grammar and overwriting. Agents, I’m told, don’t even look at fiction manuscripts by starting out writers unless it is in the range of 70,000-100,000 words. Kafka’s Metamorphosis is less than 70,000 words, you say. Lets face it, if you were Kafka, you wouldn’t be worrying about getting published.
Snarkiness aside, the word count rule is not absolute. Nothing is. But if you want to increase the odds of your of getting published, it pays to follow the rules. Over 100,000 words also makes it harder. I’m aware Pillars of the Earth is 11,000 pages long. Wasn’t Ken Follet’s first book, though. Get published first. Then break the rules.
A tip about agents: they hate it when you call your work of fiction a ‘fiction novel’ – that’s what novels are (or should be) – fiction. James Frey wrote a good piece of fiction, but called it a memoir, and got called on it. So how you label it (initially – for the agent, later – on for the world) does matter.
This is the first of many articles I hope to do as I try to find a toehold in the world of blogging. Let me know if you like this article or hate it or whatever.