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On Marketing

October 17, 2014

If you’ve been following the Florida Writers group on Facebook, you might have seen a little discussion about book promos. I promised that I would talk a bit about how this strategy might not be the most effective, and what can be done.

You might have seen me talk a little about marketing online before. One of my favorite people for info on marketing online is Rachel Thompson, who advocates a soft-sell approach I couldn’t agree more with. This approach is based on building relationships with people as opposed to sharing a string of book links.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying never share your book link. We are, after all, authors who are trying to make a living selling our work. I loved how Rachel broke the problem down, though, in regards to groups: People are sending their book links to groups filled with writers who are doing the same. Why is this a problem? Well, the main one I can see is the posts get little-to-no action. I very rarely ever see a LIKE or a comment on these posts, or a share. Another issue I see (and what has happened with me and others I know) is people go blind to the posts after a time.

I get the temptation. After all, we writers are all readers too! Still, there is a method I think would be even better, one that I have seen people use to great effectiveness: marketing to groups specifically for promos/readers. Why is this a good idea? Because people are going to these groups because they are looking for new books as opposed to a lot of other places where people might be going to get advice, discuss topics that affect writers, and other similar things.

After doing all the reading online and thinking on ways to connect, here are my favorite ways to promote:

  • Joining groups for readers/promo/your genre. A quick Facebook search turns up  quite a few of them.
  • Posting interesting facts about the topics you write about. For example, I write a lot of paranormal/new age stories, so I share information/ask questions about crystals, meditation, reincarnation, ghosts, favorite paranormal shows, and so on.
  • Sharing quotes/videos/lyrics that relate to your topics or inspired your writing. Here is one of those tweets:

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  • Retweeting others who have similar interests/genres. I get more action for these and question tweets that almost anything else.
  • Chatting people up and asking them questions. It connects me with followers and is my way of showing I care about what they say. And let me tell you, some of these people are hilarious! I put my favorites in different twitter lists so I can easily follow them.

Now that I’ve said all that, what is another way to make the book promo thing more effective in groups, besides the obvious part of joining reader/promo groups? Here are a few:

  • Share each other’s stuff, especially those who are in the same genre as you. Your fans might like similar works by other writers.
  • Switch guest blogs/interviews with fellow writers.
  • Have a radio show/podcast? Offer people the chance to be on it!
  • Trade beta reads/ARCs. Advance reviews help spread the word about a work. You might also get some valuable feedback from betas that can improve your book!

These are just a few of the ways writers can both promote their work while connecting with others and building relationships. Do you have any you have used? If so, what? Do you have favorite groups you post in?

Exercise Wednesday: You. Next week. What happens?

October 15, 2014

Today’s exercise is more of a preparation for the conference, if you’re going. (And you should. It’s the best conference in the history of writer’s conferences.)

If you have an interview booked with a publisher or agent, it’s probably going to be nervous-making for you, right up to the time you hit your stride with him or her.

Today’s exercise isn’t so much a writing exercise as a visualization exercise. What’s going to happen when you sit down across the table from that person and how are you going to respond? What will you say for your pitch? What will they ask in return? What will your response be?

If you’ve never been there, it’s a scary prospect. If you’ve done it before…it’s probably still a scary prospect. After all, you’ve done all this work on this story with these people who’ve been in your head forever. It’s important for you.

That’s why it’s useful to think it through.

Uhh, this is a writing exercise…

Yes. Yes, it is. And the feelings you’ll have during that time are transferable to other times of great nervousness. So write the scene–or a similar one.

Time limit: 40 minutes

Ebook or Paperback?

October 13, 2014

By CP Bialois

CP Author PhotoGood morning everyone! I thought I’d start this week off with a fun discussion topic: Which do you like better? E-books or paperbacks?

To be honest, I love them both. The kindle (or Nook or whatever device you prefer) allows us to carry around hundreds of books in our pockets. The convenience they offer is second to none as you can read a PDF from your computer on your device as well. What’s not to love about that?

The one bad thing is when you purchase an e-book, you are really only buying the right to “borrow” the book. This became obvious after a recent article cycled around the internet about Amazon preventing a person from accessing the library she paid for. Even this, depending on your point of view, isn’t necessarily a bad thing as some sites like Smashwords lets you download the books as a PDF, which can be saved on your computer indefinitely. It’s all about our preference.

Speaking of preference, while I love my kindle and e-books, I will always love the physical books. Nothing compares to holding a book in your hand. The feel of the cover and pages, the sound of you turning them, and even the smell is so awesome. That’s right folks, I’m a book sniffer. Now don’t worry, I don’t do that to library books or books I don’t buy. If I do buy them, I will sniff to my heart’s content. The only thing close to the smell of a new book is fresh-cut grass, at least in my opinion.

Of course, the downside is having enough space to put the books. Anytime we go into the library or thrift store, I go right to the books being sold. Nearly every time I turn to my wife with an armload of books and a goofy, crap-eating smile on my face. Her response? “We don’t have room.”

Now, I know she’s right, but I refuse to give up my books without a fight, or some pouting if needed. Needless to say, I lose just about every time. What can I say? I’m a book junkie. Lol

What’s your preference? Do you like one over the other or any format in general?

Conference-Goers, Get the Most from this Year’s Annual Conference. Here’s How.

October 12, 2014

Editor’s Note: The following is adapted from the Conference Chairperson’s Message in the program for “Stars of Florida Writers,” 13th faculty and the explanation of the today’s publishing options. Thank you, Jennie!


—By Jennie Jarvis/2014-15 Faculty Chairperson


Working Together For Gold StarStepping into a new leadership position in any organization can be challenging, but even more so when you are taking over from Veronica Hart. She’s done such a great job programming our annual conference in the past that I knew I had big shoes to fill. But I’ve always been up for a challenge!

More than anything else, I wanted to program a conference that catered to all kinds of writers— whether they are at the shaky beginning of their career or are stable veterans with multiple published titles. To do that, I created our “Education Tracks.” These tracks allowed me to create content that could meet the needs of every writer.

Also, since this year’s conference theme is “Stars of the Florida,” I reached out to some of the brightest stars of our industry working today! We have New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Authors. We have powerhouse agents and editors. We even have filmmakers ready to turn your stories into tomorrow’s feature films.

While those are our brightest stars, don’t overlook the rest of the stellar faculty. They might not have credits as impressive, but they have a lot of wisdom and experience that they are graciously sharing with the rest of us. I’m very proud of every member of my faculty, and I can’t wait for each of you to realize how amazing they all are!

Once you discover the genius of each faculty member, don’t forget to sign up to meet for a private interview with your favorites. You can get advice from our Bestsellers like Mary Burton or Lyla Payne.

If you are ready to pitch your work, you can sign up to meet with an agent, acquisition editor, or filmmaker. You even have the chance to book a critique session with three incredible faculty members dedicated to helping you make your writing even better. Read the Faculty Landscape below to help you decide the best faculty member for you to meet based on your publishing goals!

I know I’m the “new kid on the block” at the FWA Annual Conference, but I hope I’ve taken a good step towards fulfilling those large shoes Veronica left behind. My hope is that I’ve lined up such an amazing faculty, you’ll be upset that you can’t go to everything! Read more…

This Month, We Write IN HELL—To NaNo or Not to NaNo

October 10, 2014
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Good morning, guys. :) With October here and November fast approaching, I thought this would be a good post to share today. I’ve always enjoyed NaNoWriMo and this, to me, is a great explanation of why. I love the challenge and the impending deadline breathing down my neck as I try to figure out what on earth is going to happen in my words that day.

My NaNo books are never perfect, but that’s not the point. The point is, I committed to my book and my writing each day. I am looking forward to once again jumping in and connecting with other local writers at the write-ins, which is a whole other thing that makes this challenge fun.

What about you? Are you a NaNo participant? Thinking about it? Don’t get it? Comment and let’s chat about it! I’ll see you all again next time!

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 9.18.07 AM

NaNoWriMo. There are a lot of opinions floating around about NaNo and I can’t tell you guys what to do. Wait, I do that all the time. Hmmm. Okay, I can’t MAKE you try NaNo, but I am the friend who will gently and lovingly shove you off a cliff because it’s good for you.

WHAT!!??? You SAID you wanted to go BASE jumping be a professional author.

In my 20s, I lived life like a Mountain Dew commercial. You name X Dumb Thing? Sign me up! One of my favorite suicidal activities was skydiving. If I was having a really bad time, nothing to perk me up like free falling from 15,000 feet. But I’m a natural idiot adventurer.

My little brother? Was probably the more cautious/sane one, but I could tell from this spark in his eyes that he’d one day like to just go for it and…

View original 1,356 more words

Exercise Wednesday: That’s a big number

October 8, 2014


For about half the population, that’s a scary number. For the other half, it’s a fond remembrance of when they were young. Either way, it’s an emotionally loaded number–a figure that has meaning beyond just marking the end of your fourth decade. Forty may be the beginning of the end. Maybe it’s the beginning of a second, better half of life.

Maybe it’s a number that once seemed impossible to reach, if the person was in a violent situation or had major health problems.

Whatever the case, today’s exercise is to write about a character’s reaction to the number forty (or feel free to substitute a number of your own choosing).

Time limit: 30 minutes.

Rejecting Editorial Suggestions

October 6, 2014

Recently a comment in an online forum for editors I participate in provoked much discussion, and it occurred to me that it might be interesting for you writers to be privy to something editors  talk about when you’re not around.

An editor new to the business wondered what other editors do when their editorial comments and revision suggestions are rejected by the author.

Whether or not the writer incorporates suggested revisions seemed to be a big concern for the in-house editors in the forum (and freelance editors hired by publishing houses to work with their authors). The job of those editors is to communicate house style and insure the work meets house standards.

When an author is uncooperative, the in-house editor may have no recourse other than to give up and  turn the manuscript back to the acquisition editor with a list of recommendations.  You usually can’t fight house style and direction, and as a writer, you should know that when you turn the revision process into a fight with an in-house editor, the magazine or publishing company you thought would be publishing your work may not publish it after all.

The relationship between an independent freelance editor and a self-publishing author is different. Editors in the forum told about writers (no names were used!) who rejected their suggestions and produced books riddled with errors or who rushed to self-publish books that were clearly not ready. Every editor, it seems, has stories like that. It became clear that the original poster and some others worried about how their client’s work would affect their reputations as editors.

As the forum discussion progressed, there seemed to be some consensus that the reading public understands the author is responsible for the book’s contents, not the editor. Experienced editors know that once they’ve given the writer thoughtful advice—and backed it up with standard guides  like the Chicago Manual of Style along with conversations with the writer about how their choices affect the reader—that what to do with editorial remarks is the author’s decision.

One experienced editor on the forum wrote that “editing is a diplomatic awareness-raising exercise, not a battle of wills,” and I agree with that. I actually enjoy working with a writer who will push back on my suggestions. It keeps me on my toes when I have to explain myself, and my experience has shown me that conversation between editor and author can help the writer clarify her vision.

I think my job as an editor is to offer suggestions and other information that enables the writer to make good choices more confidently. My goal, the goal of any editor, should be to help the writer achieve her vision for the work. I don’t think my job is to give orders or impose my style or vision on the work. I believe editing is two-way conversation, not a sermon from the mount. Maybe you’ll work with an incompetent editor or one with a God complex, but they are not as common as the movies and New Yorker cartoons would have you believe. Editors want to help, not hinder, the writer.

So back to the original question the forum member posed. What do editors do when their editorial comments and revision suggestions are rejected by the author? The fact is, we cannot do anything but cringe when our names appear in the book’s acknowledgements and the reviews comment negatively on the editing or problems we know could have been avoided had the author adopted our suggestions and taken more time with her work. But it’s the author’s name on the front of the book, not the editor’s.

Editors have no control over the self-published author’s output, nor should we. Some of the saddest words in the world are, “My editor made me do it.” The author is the decider and should remain in control of the work.

We editors can offer the best of our experience and knowledge to our clients. We can explain the reasoning behind our revisions and suggestions. But after that, we can only hope writers will  truly listen and carefully consider our advice before they decide to act on it or reject it. We hope our suggestions will not be dismissed out of hand, and we hope that writers will give their work all the time and effort it deserves. But we cannot do anything to make sure that happens. So what do editors do when their editorial comments and revision suggestions are rejected by the author? Ultimately, we let it go.

Mary Ann de StefanoMary Ann de Stefano is the editor of The Florida Writer (the official magazine of the Florida Writers Association) and MAD’s Monday Muse. She is also a writer, editor, and organizer of writing workshops with 30+ years experience in publishing and writing consulting. Besides working one-on-one with writers who are developing books, she designs author websites. Mary Ann does business at MAD about Words, named as a play on her initials and love for writing.


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