Feb 102014
 
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By Sherry Ziegelmeyer

Now that 2014 is well underway, you’re probably starting to get antsy about what kind of publicity you can generate to increase awareness of your books this year. As I said in my last Write-Sex.com column, used properly, press releases are a viable tool to generate public interest in your books—and in you, as an author.

The unwritten catch in that above paragraph is that first your press release must make it through the vetting process of an editor. …If you’re thinking of the benevolent and helpful copy editor who goes over your manuscripts before they’re published—you’d be wrong. News editors are only interested in a press release that catches their attention, tells them all they need to know within the first paragraph of the text and has enough “meat” to make the story newsworthy, or at least to make their readers stay on the page long enough to see their own advertisers’ sales pitches.

So how do you go about writing a press release that will evoke a positive reaction in an editor? One strong enough to convince them to do something with your press release, beyond deleting it? The following example will probably help you—let’s “deconstruct” a press release!

Since I happen to have a press release that the wonderful M. Christian put together for Sizzler Editions’ website launch a while back, let’s use that as the example…

Formatting for Professionalism

You will need to let the media know when your news is applicable, and that is handled by the release dateline notice (part one—there are actually two parts to the dateline, but we’ll fill in the second part once we get to the body copy), formatted as:

For Immediate Release: [Insert the actual date you are sending out your press release.]

Now you will need to let the media know whom to contact for more information concerning your news, so add this line:

Contact: [Insert your name and direct phone number or email, or those of another designated contact person.]

Within the body of a press release, there will be a couple of additional formatting rules you should keep in mind; however, it would be too confusing to jump ahead, so for now please focus on these two—they are the most important. Editors are a finicky bunch and they have been known to automatically delete press releases that do not follow standard formatting rules at the beginning of the copy they are presented.

Giving Good “Headline”

Now we can start building the actual press release.  We need a headline, which is a title that describes the information contained in your press release. A headline should be brief, yet it also should make the reader (the all-important editor!) interested in what you have to say in the press release that follows that headline.

Sizzler Editions Launches Exciting, New, Erotic eBook Site

Please notice that this headline uses proper grammatical form, and avoids the crime of “shouting” that would be committed if the entire headline were capitalized instead of in Title Case. It also has no exclamation points or other punctuation. All of those effects detract from a good headline, and annoy most editors.

However, what should be capitalized in title case is capitalized. This headline also fits on one line, which is important for most publications—and yet, it still tells you who the company is, and what the company does, so readers will have an idea of the information included in the press release.

Lead Paragraphs

Your lead paragraph should contain at least three of the necessary pieces of information essential for an editor to determine if your submission is worthy of their further attention.  These questions are termed by many editors as “The 5 W’s and the H”, which stand for Who, What, When, Where, Why and How?

Leading off the first paragraph of your press release, you’ll want to include the second part of the “dateline” that tells the editor where the news was generated. Sometimes it’s very important for an editor to know if your press release has a local news angle, and sometimes it doesn’t matter—but in either case you will look more professional and interesting to an editor when the location of your news is appreciable at a glance.

(San Francisco, California) Sizzler Editions, the premier publisher of erotic eBooks since 1998, announces a new site for erotic literature junkies to access their catalog of 1500 titles, sizzlereditions.com. [http://sizzlereditions.com]

The lead paragraph of this press release answers three of those journalistic test questions which determine whether a story is actually newsworthy: “Who” (Sizzler Editions), “What” (A publisher of erotic eBooks) and “Why” (they launched a new website with a catalog.)

This type of lead paragraph also gives the editor an idea of what the lead of their own story should focus on, should they choose to rewrite the press release for their publication. Remember this rule and you will make friends with many people in the press. Forget this rule and you will leave people wondering about your level of professionalism.

Guess what? The hard part is done! Now, let’s give our press more information to back up and expand on what we have already said in our lead paragraph. Let’s move to the rest of the body copy:

Built on a new, more flexible, platform with additional layers of subcategories, the new Sizzler Editions site features the ability to see related books by theme and series. Next to each book cover, readers will see convenient tabs featuring the book’s description, direct purchase links and other information. The updated site also incorporates video trailers for featured Sizzler Edition titles, and expanded Author Bio pages.

While the second paragraph is enough to fully cover all the “5 W’s and an H”, you still want to wrap up this story with some more supporting information, and make it more interesting. You can do that with quotations. Breaking up blocks of informational text with quotes also helps keep your press release from reading like an advertisement.

Of the new site, Publisher Jean Marie Stine says, “Perhaps the biggest change is the fact that we no longer host and sell books ourselves. Readers will instead find a link, which takes them directly to a book’s page on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and other such sites. At the redesigned Sizzler Editions site, readers can not only easily find the book they like, but they can buy it from their preferred vendor in a new tab—and have it downloaded instantly into their ebook reading device— without ever leaving the Sizzler Editions site.  It’s a win-win for both readers and for us!”

Stine reveals that the site is continuing to add improvements above and beyond the update unveiled April 2, 2013. “The new site is still very much a work in progress. We will add audio interviews with our authors, include even more features to enhance the visitor’s search experience and more titles from new erotic authors are always being added to our catalog!”

Debut releases at the new site include bestselling bondage author Powerone’s new Cold War spy shocker, Slave of the Kremlin, two novellas of paranormal romance by Sarah Bella, author of Bound by Blood, and a first-ever collection of Herotica editor Marcy Sheiner’s stories, Love & Other Illusions. Also scheduled for release in the coming weeks are Love’s Storm by Margie Church and K. B. Cutter, the second installment of their controversial trilogy about polyamory, plus a new collection of erotic science fiction stories, Skin Effect, by M.Christian. Coming soon to Sizzler Editions are the first of three books by sexologist Amy Marsh reporting back on Love’s Outer Limits, and new books by Terri Pray, David Jewell and other bestselling authors.

You’ll notice that the quoted bits of the sample press release are all flush left aligned and use block paragraphs with a single return between them. That’s the proper way to present a press release to an editor.

Calls to Action

Every press release should include a Call to Action at the end of the body copy. Remember though, a press release cannot read like an ad! So always keep your calls to action vague, such as “Bookmark sizzlereditions.com now…”, which is used in the last paragraph of this press release, as you will see next:

Bookmark sizzlereditions.com now, and start exploring the new features rolled out in the first phase of the update, and be sure to come back for the official grand reopening on May 1st, when there will be free eBooks, special prizes and other delights.

Wrapping Up

Let’s sign this thing off with the all-important sign that your story is now finished and let your editors get back to their deadlines, shall we? To give the press the signal that you are finished, use this traditional copy writing convention:

-30-

Please don’t bother yourself with what “-30-” means or where the convention came from; most reporters today are also clueless of its original origins, however they all know it when they see it.

If you still don’t think that you have included enough information for the press to consider your press release newsworthy, let’s add the optional “boilerplate” copy, in its required format (again, both paragraphs should be flush left aligned):

About Sizzler Editions:

Sizzler Editions is one of the leading ebook publishers of erotica on the internet. Sizzler issued their first ebooks in 1998, and since that time have published over 1500 titles. Sizzler Editions prides itself on presenting the finest in erotica for every sexual interest and orientation.

You never thought we’d finish that did you? Well, that’s the entire press release, with all of the formatting in place and enough information to convey to an editor that the news it contains will be of interest to their readers.

The truth is, anyone can write a press release. The problem is that very few people know how to write a good one; let alone one that news editors will find professional and credible. There are many other details (and potential pitfalls) that you should be aware of when writing press releases, from the adverse reaction editors have to “bullet points” in them, to the use of “hype”, to the appropriate length and number of topics that should be included in any single press release, to headlines, “burying leads” and much more.  If you’d like to learn more about these and other common “editor’s grievances”, with examples and explanations gathered directly from news editors, please visit The Press Wire Writing Tips page.

 

Do you have specific questions concerning how to generate publicity for your books? Please email questions and comments to Sherry; answers will appear as future WriteSex blog topics.

Sherry Ziegelmeyer is a professional publicist and public relations representative, who happens to specialize in adult entertainment (in all its various forms). She resides in Chatsworth, California, affectionately known as “ground zero of the adult entertainment industry.” When not working on writing press releases, arranging interviews and putting together review kits for her clients (among dozens of other career related activities), she reads a LOT, loves cooking, appreciates beefcake eye-candy, spending time with friends, family and with her assortment of furred and feathered “kids”.

Get to know Sherry at blackandbluemedia.com or www.facebook.com/sherry.ziegelmeyer.

 

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Jan 272014
 
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By P.M. White

Writers aren’t social, are they? Aren’t writers at their keyboards, head lowered, with their fingers moving furiously for hours on end? Don’t they hear dialogue in their minds and not out loud?

That’s how it used to be, if we’re to believe historians.

Writers these days, however, have to be both social and prolific if they want to make enough from their stories to stave off a day job. And most writers have day jobs, often two jobs, to support their writing habit. But whether or not one needs a day job, it’s still it’s a full time job just being social—by which I mean the current primary definition of this term: marketing yourself and your writing with social media. Like it or not, most believe it’s a vital part of the literary world these days. In erotica, authors are online chatting it up on a regular basis. If they want to sell more than five books, they have to be.

But often, all the socializing in the world won’t help. So what are the tips and tricks to getting noticed? How do authors market both their work and themselves?

Author Hunter S. Jones recommends loads of reading and loads of research:

As an artist you should have the capacity to read trends. Find out what works for your genre and what feels good for your work. That seems to be the most important thing, really.

Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, offers both advantages and shortfalls, she added.

You can gain scores via some sites, gain followers on all sites, but maybe the important thing to remember is not to lose sight of your own publishing goals. What do you want and how can you obtain it?

Author Kay Jaybee recommends setting aside time each and every day to promote your work. The easiest and most obvious marketing tools, she said, are Facebook and Twitter:

By setting up an author page on Facebook, as well as a Twitter account, you can quickly post buy links, cover reveals, and writing news to help build up an audience of readers. If you haven’t the time to dive into these social media networks more than once a day, you can use Hootsuite to schedule as many posts as you like in advance—that way your work has an online presence on and off all day.

Keeping and updating a blog or a website is equally important, she added. Jaybee herself gets more than a thousand visitors a week on her blog.

Another recommendation I’d make is to go on a blog tour whenever you have a new, full length, novel or novella to market. Ask blog-owners who specialize in your genre to feature your work for a day. You can pay for professional agencies to set up such tours for you, or you could offer to swap blogs with other writers, featuring their work in return for them featuring yours. Blog tours are a great way of introducing your work to a wider number of potential new readers.

Author Giulia Napoli suggests staying active in one to two social media sites at a time when pushing your erotic writing:

You can lose hours per day—hours better spent writing—by getting sucked into long discussions or writing dozens of notes that aren’t directly applicable to marketing your books. For example, a friend of mine who writes sci-fi started to get involved in a discussion of whether or not sci-fi authors should use faster-than-light travel in their stories. He was strongly opinionated on that topic, but there was no return on the time he spent debating it.

Napoli herself can often be found on Goodreads, her preferred choice, due to the author communities found there.

Become known in the communities of readers and authors within your genre. All social sites have ‘interest groups’ of some sort. For writers, Goodreads may be the best site for this—for example, if you write fem-fem erotica, there is a Goodreads group for that. Participate in a handful of groups directly about, or related to, your genre—within reason. Toss out your ideas, but avoid arguments. Above all, be courteous, and observe the group rules!

Street teams, fans who advertise your writing on social media, also work for some authors, said Jones—but what works for some doesn’t always work for others—

What works for me is a pair of black Louboutins, black dress, pearls, small Chanel bag, Chanel lipstick and Bardot hair. And a pair of red leather gloves. This may not work for others. If you write, you live it and surely you love it. Whatever your vocation, you are selling something to someone else. Why not your book or books? If you do not believe in yourself, how can you expect someone else to? Why deny the world your greatness? Get out there and let them know about your work.

Jaybee cited the importance of an author page on Amazon as well, as a majority of book sales in both the United Kingdom and in the USA begin with the online giant. Sprinkle that with a helping of Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest, sometimes LinkedIn—whatever will reach your readers. But no matter which social media strategies and venues you choose, you remain quiet and off-radar at your peril:

LinkedIn works for some people, but not for others, as it is very business based. It is no good writing a book and expecting people to magically have heard of it. If you don’t shout about your work it will be lost in the swamp of the hundreds of thousands of other publications out there. Each and every time you put a book or even a blog post out—tell everyone! Tweet it, Facebook post it—spread the word! Otherwise, you are simply wasting your time. I know I’m repeating myself, but I can’t stress that enough.

In a world where publishers do less and less marketing, promotion has become as much a part of an author’s job as the creation of plot twists and placing of commas. I resent the time I spend marketing my work. It takes up a good two hours of my day—time I could spend writing—but sadly, it is essential. I did an experiment last year to see if my daily round of tweeting, posting and blogging made any difference, and did nothing marketing-wise for a month. My sales disappeared! Needless to say, I am back to marketing my work every day!

Offline, getting a mention in a magazine or newspaper, reading your work at an event, or doing a radio interview is also something Jaybee strongly recommends.

Reviews are another important piece to the marketing puzzle, Napoli said:

Get reviews of your work. Get them on review sites, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Smashwords, etc. Follow everyone’s rules in submitting or offering your work for review, but get reviews from pros and regular readers of your book. Assuming most of your reviews are good, an occasional two-star review is better than no review at all. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

That said, Napoli cautioned,

An author should never, ever resort to arguing with critics.

This can destroy your reputation faster than anything. If your book gets read, as you want it to, there will be some people who’ll feel they’ve wasted their money on you and want you to ‘pay’ in return. The way they make you pay is by giving you a poor rating. Suck it up. Ignore it and go on, no matter how unfair it is. You cannot win that battle.

Book giveaways, Napoli added, are another way to generate buzz:

I’m not a big fan of giving books away over a long period, unless you’re trying to channel readers into your sequel. I think targeted giveaways, e.g., in Goodreads contests, are the way to go. When you’re getting started, contact readers who show an interest in your book(s). For example, for my erotic novel, Oh Claire!, I sent a friend request with a short note to every reader who put it on their ‘to read’ list. In addition, if a reader writes a particularly well-done review, contact that person, and tell her/him what you liked about the review. But never argue.

Despite all the tricks of marketing and promotion, Napoli said writers shouldn’t lose track of two important points: finding the right publisher and having a polished finished product.

Find a publisher if you can, even if it’s one that only publishes online. For a [rather small] percentage of the online fees, they will help with editing, publishing, distribution, and marketing. Note that online publishing fees range from 65 to 70 percent, if the book is priced between U.S. $2.99 and $9.99. Online-only publishers forward most of that to the author.

Editing is a very big deal. In my opinion, it can make all the difference in acceptance of your book. It takes time, but results in a high-quality product. I write erotica, and I know that erotica publications (short stories, novelettes, novels) are among the most poorly edited. When you find an author whose books are quality (e.g., Lindsey Brooks), you tend to read more of their works. Typically, more enjoyable stories go with better editing, because everybody involved is trying to do their best—quality, not quantity, is the key.

When it comes to editing, Napoli recommends working with other authors and reading one another’s work. But again, a word of caution:

Remember though, a good writer is not necessarily a good editor—at least not without practice.

 

About Hunter S. Jones
Hunter S. Jones is the author of September EndsFortune Calling and other works. When not writing novels and stories, she contributes to expatspost.com. Over the years she’s published articles on music, fashion, art, travel and history. Jones, a lover of all the finer things in life, says, ”The art form I create when writing is much more interesting than anything you will ever know or learn about me. However, since you ask, I have lived in Tennessee and Georgia my entire life, except for one ‘lost summer’ spent in Los Angeles. I was always a complex kid. My first published stories were for a local underground rock publication in Nashville.”
For more information, visit Hunter S. Jones online at HunterSJones.com , Exile on Peachtree Street and Facebook.

About Kay Jaybee
Kay Jaybee is the author of numerous novels, including the Perfect Submissive Trilogies, Making Him WaitThe Voyeur, as well as the novellas Not Her Type: Erotic Adventures with a Delivery ManDigging DeepA Sticky Situation, and The Circus. She has also written the short story collections The Collector, The Best of Kay Jaybee, Tied to the Kitchen SinkEquipmentYes Ma’amQuick Kink One and Quick Kink Two. Kay has had over eighty short stories published by Cleis Press, Black Lace, Mammoth, Xcite, Penguin, Seal and Sweetmeats Press (Immoral Views).
Visit Jaybee online at kayjaybee.me.uk, or on her Facebook page.

About Giulia Napoli
Thirty-something Giulia Napoli grew up in East Lansing, Michigan where her father was a professor at Michigan State University. She earned a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Journalism from a prestigious Great Lakes area university. While an undergraduate, Giulia studied abroad for three years—a year each in London, Florence, and Brussels. Her interest in the many forms of erotica started and grew during her time in Europe. Giulia writes romantic erotica with themes of submission, hair fetishes, body modification and some surprising, unexpected, erotic twists thrown in. Her settings are often exotic and, especially in her new novel, Oh Claire!, global in scope, reflecting her own well-traveled experiences.
For more information on Napoli, visit her Goodreads page, or send her an email at msgiulianapoli@live.com.

About the columnist
Writer P.M. White has toiled on a number of sexy stories over the years, including his newest novella Volksie: A Tale of Sex, Americana and Cars from 1001 Nights Press. His previous publications include the Horror Manor trilogy from Sizzler Editions: Eyeball Man, Desire Under the Eaves, and You are a Woman. White’s short stories have appeared in Sex in San Francisco, The Love That Never Dies, Bound for Love, Pirate Booty and many others.
For more information, visit him on Tumblr at pmwhite.tumblr.com, at his Amazon author page, on Twitter @authorpmwhite and on Facebook.

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Dec 082013
 
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Making Social Media Work for You, Part I

By M. Christian

Okay, to be honest: I used to be extremely anti-Twitter.

It’s not like I’ve done a complete turnaround—far from it—but I’ve begun to use it more seriously, and …I have to grudgingly admit that it can be an effective social media tool.

While I am still fairly new to tweet-tweet-tweeting, I can’t but help notice a lot of authors making what I think are serious mistakes. Part of that, of course, is because twitter is counterintuitive to the way writers think. Unlike blogs and other forms of social media, twitter is ephemeral: tweets coming and going in the space of a few seconds…with few people taking the time to backtrack on what anyone is saying.

This means that quantity is key to tweeting; zapping out a tweet, say, every few days or weeks or only when you have a book or story coming out is pretty much pointless. Even if you have a huge audience of loyal followers, tweeting infrequently means that you will have an very small percentage of that audience who happen to be looking at their Twitter feed for your short pearls of wisdom, or important book announcements, the moment you send them—and that moment, O infrequent tweeter, is the only one you’ve given yourself. To make effective use of Twitter you not only need to tweet every day, you need to tweet several times a day.

And then there’s the question of what you’re tweeting. Yes, you need to talk about your writing; yes, you need to post book announcements; yes, you need to praise your publisher; yes, you need to scream about good reviews…but you also need to come across as a person. So, share interesting information about yourself, share pieces of your writing that you aren’t necessarily trying to sell, talk to your followers as if they were friends (though, not necessarily the kind of friends to whom you’d say anything), rather than potential customers…get my drift? Your followers are interested in your work, but they’re also interested in you.

One thing I’ve been doing—though probably not as much as I should—is a Fun Fact thread: sharing tidbits about little ol’ me that people might find interesting. Hopefully it makes my feed seem a lot less stridently I’M A WRITER READ MY WRITINGS and more human, intriguing, and engaging.

Fortunately, frequent tweeting with varied messages isn’t as hard as it sounds. You don’t have log in to  your twitter account multiple times and send out each tweet manually. With the right tool you can post a half dozen tweets or more all at the same time, and have them sent out every few hours. One of the best tools I’ve found for this (and, no, this isn’t a commercial) is called Hootsuite; it’s a web-based twitter aggregator that allows me to post, schedule, track, and do other fun things, and from more than one Twitter account (which is handy, since I work for a publisher and send out tweets about myself as well about them). The scheduling feature is very handy: I can create multiple tweets and then copy and paste them into Hootsuite’s scheduler—and program them to pop up over the span of a few hours or even days.

Of course, you don’t want the tweets to be mind-numbingly similar and spammy. No one—ever—wants to listen to a commercial, let alone the same one several times a day. So flooding your poor followers with nothing but BUY MY BOOK BUY MY BOOK BUY MY BOOK is not going to sell a single copy, and will more than likely get you unfollowed. Give the repeated content some variety, switch the words around, say the same thing in different words, etc.

Here are four tweets I sent out for one of my books when Sizzler Editions was giving it away free one weekend:

He drank blood but wasn’t a vampire. Even he didn’t know what he was! Free 14-16thh Manlove novel @MChristianzobop http://amzn.com/B00CWNRFYM

#Free 14-16th #Manlove #Vampire classic complete in one ebook Running Dry by @MChristianzobop http://amzn.com/B00CWNRFYM

Like #Manlove #Paranormal #Romance? M. Christian blazes a new trail in Running Dry only @MChristianzobop http://amzn.com/B00CWNRFYM

#Free this weekend only Lambda Finalist M. Christian’s gay vampire classic Running Dry http://amzn.com/B00CWNRFYM

In addition to varying the wording of what is essentially the same information, you can parcel out different bits of information about the same event, in a way that’s easy for late-afternoon or evening tweet-readers to catch up on whatever you’d posted in the morning. Say you were going to a convention where you would be on a panel and also reading. Don’t write one tweet about it. Write a tweet about the fact that you will be there and the dates; another about being on the panel and when it is scheduled; a third about your reading, and when and where.

Another feature of Twitter (and other social media platforms) that a lot of people ignore when sending out info is autosharing. In short, this means that whatever you post to one place gets automatically shared to others. Let’s say I have a blog. Using RSS Graffiti, whatever I post there is picked up on Facebook. Let’s also say I have a Tumblr (I actually have seven). With Tumblr’s built-in system I can share (or not) what I post on it to Twitter and then to Facebook. There is also a setting in Twitter that passes your tweets along to Facebook as well. These settings let you decide what’s automatically reposted where, so your aunt Betty doesn’t end up hearing about your new erotic novel unless you want her to.

It can be a tad confusing—to put it mildly—but it saves a lot of time and effort to automate these things. That said, one word of warning: you want to be careful with a quantity-driven thing like Twitter that you don’t choke your slower-rate social media places like Facebook with too many autoshared reposts—that’ll start to get pretty spammy. Hootsuite, nicely, allows me to post to Facebook as well as Twitter, so I can vary the number of posts I send out to match the nature of the media venue. It may take a bit of trial and error to get this all balanced for rate and time and such but it’s really worth the investment.

Pay attention, as well, to hashtags…though the #trick with #these is #not to overuse #them as your post will look really #silly. You can check trending tags and use those—but all that means is that yours will compete with millions of others. Far better to use them only for what you are really writing about, and then only a few per post.

And retweet items you find important, amusing or interesting. Remember, Twitter is supposed to be social media: meaning that the goal isn’t to talk at people but to them. Tweeting a lot but not actually communicating useful or interesting information is going to get you zilch.

Relatedly, don’t, as too many people do, ignore retweets of your tweets or mentions of your name. It’s not a quid pro quo situation, but it’s nice to pause and acknowledge that someone cared enough to spread your tweets further out into the world. Being ignored, specially by a writer whose career, or books, you have retweeted or shared…well, it doesn’t take much of that for a “follow” to turn into an “unfollow.”

Sure, Twitter too often sounds like a parrot who’s been sitting next to the television for too long and is about as deep as a Justin Bieber song—but the fact remains that, if you approach it intelligently and efficiently, it can be a valuable source of marketing for writers.

Just, as with all social media, try not to get sucked into spending so much time playing with it that you don’t #get #any #writing #done…

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Nov 302012
 
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It’s a huge no-duh that we live in an Information Age: from high speed Internet to 4G cell networks, we can get whatever we want wherever we want it – data-wise – at practically at the speed of light.

But sometimes I miss the old days. No, they weren’t – ever – the Good Old Days (I still remember liquid paper, SASEs, and letter-sized manila envelopes … shudder), but back then a writer had a damned long time to hear about anything to do with the biz.

If you were lucky you got a monthly mimeographed newsletter but otherwise you spent weeks, even months, before hearing about markets or trends … and if you actually wanted contact with another writer you either had to pick up the phone, sit down and have coffee, or (gasp) write a letter.

No, I’m far from being a Luddite. To borrow a bit from the great (and late) George Carlin: “I’ve been uplinked and downloaded. I’ve been inputted and outsourced. I know the upside of downsizing; I know the downside of upgrading. I’m a high-tech lowlife. A cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, bicoastal mutlitasker, and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond.”

I love living in The World Of Tomorrow. Sure, we may not have food pills or jetpacks but with the push of a … well, the click of a mouse I can see just about every movie or show I want, read any book ever written, play incredibly realistic games, or learn anything I want to know.

Here it comes, what you’ve been waiting for … but … well, as I’ve said many times before, writing can be an emotionally difficult, if not actually scarring endeavor. We forget, far too often, to care for ourselves in the manic pursuit of our writing ‘careers.’ We hover over Facebook, Twitter and blog-after-blog: our creative hopes of success – and fears of failure – rising and falling with every teeny-tiny bit of information that comes our way.

I miss … time. I miss weeks, months of not knowing what the newest trend was, who won what award, who sold what story to what magazine, who did or did not write their disciplined number of pages that day. Back then, I just sat down and wrote my stories and, when they were done, I’d send them off – and immediately begin another story so when the inevitable rejection letter came I could, at least, look at what I’d sent and say to myself Feh, I’ve done better since.

I’m not the only one. Just this week I had to talk three friends off rooftops because they looked at their sales figures, read that another writer had just sold a story when they’d just been rejected, heard that the genre they love to work in is in a downward spiral, that they’d been passed over (again) for an award, or that someone else had written ten pages that day … and all they’d managed to do was the laundry and maybe answer a few emails.

It took me quite a while but I’ve finally begun to find a balance in my life: a way to still happily be – and now we’re bowing to the really-dead Timothy Leary – turned on, tuned in … by dropping out.

Far too many writers out there say that being plugged in 24/7 to immediately what other writers are doing and saying, what their sales are like moment-by-moment, or the tiniest blips in genres, is the way to go. While I agree what we all have to keep at least one eye on what’s happening in the world of writing we also have to pay a lot more attention to how this flow of information is making us feel – and, especially, how it affects our work.

By dropping out, I mean looking at what comes across our desk and being open, honest, and – most of all – caring about how it makes us feel. You do not have to follow every Tweet, Facebook update, blog post, or whatever to be able to write and sell your work. You do not have to believe the lies writers love to tell about themselves. You do not have to subscribe to every group, forum, or site. You do not have to hover over your sales.

I’ll tell you what I tell myself – as well as my friends who are in the horrible mire of professional depression: drop out … turn it off. If the daily updates you get from some writer’s forum make you feel like crap then unsubscribe. If you don’t like the way another writer makes you feel about you and your work then stop following them. If the self-aggrandizing or cliquish behavior of a writer depresses you then stop reading their Tweets, blog posts or whatever.

You do not have to be a conduit for every hiccup and blip of information that comes your way. You Are A Writer … and, just like with flesh-and-blood people, if something diminishes you in any way, punches you in the emotional solar plexus, or keeps you from actually writing, then Turn It Off.

This is me, not you, but I don’t follow very many writing sites. WriteSex, here, is wonderful, of course … but beyond the true, real professional necessities, I only follow or read things that are fun, educational, entertaining, uplifting, and – best of all – make me feel not just good about myself and my writing, but want to make me sit down at my state-of-the-art machine and write stories.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what it’s all about … and everything else either comes a distant second or doesn’t matter at all.

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Nov 082012
 
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Promotion is the activity around which you sell your book.

There are literally hundreds of book promotion opportunities on the internet and all around you in the real world.  Some cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, some are free. Here’s the problem … BOOK PROMOTIONS lump many authors together in one place (creating a competitive environment) or they try to create urgency sales by giving away free, 99 cent books or discounted books within a limited time period. Many of these are silly games or puzzles which in and of themselves aren’t bad ideas, except for the fact that so many authors are doing the same thing at the same time, and almost none of these promotional ideas focus on the elements that make your book special. Being herded into a tight environment with other authors is less successful than you think. Now keep in mind, I’m not telling you NOT to do any of these things … I’m simply explaining that using such promotions alone will not gain you the book sales above and beyond other authors. You have got to go further and move into areas other authors haven’t approached with your promotions.

Yay, it’s finally time to promote that book you’ve been writing, talking, blogging, Facebooking and Twittering about. Time to promote the book to all those prospective readers you’ve been reaching out to. Remember all those goals listed under Tool #1? Now you can make them happen.

The question is, how to promote? Again, it’s all inside your manuscript. Create promotions and events that are so tightly related to your story and characters you can hear it squeak. If the murder in your mystery takes place in a museum, hold your book launch events and speaking engagements in museums or museum gift stores. Find the hook and twist it tightly to make it your promotional key.  Is your main character a coffee expert, (cognac lover, cigar connoisseur)? Have your events in a coffee shop (liquor store or cigar shop), use the store’s discount coupons as bookmarks, campaign to have a coffee drink at the coffee shop named after your book. Does you story involve a corrupt lawyer poaching wild animals in Africa? Hold your events at the zoo and have tee shirts that say “So Zoo Me!”

Promotion is about making a splash but you can’t make a splash without any water, a whole sea of unique hooks you’ve already written into your book. The water’s there, all that marketing and publicity is just waiting for your activity.

E-published? Again, there are perfect venues for your promotions. The Zoo has a website. So does the museum and the coffee shop. They might be thrilled to let you show your book on that website, perhaps sell your book with a link on that website, especially if you’re donating a portion of your profits to support the zoo or museum or a charity near and dear to the coffee shop’s heart.

Get creative. Seek every opportunity and promote! And by the way, don’t forget the simplest and most effective way to promote. JUST TELL PEOPLE! Tell all those friends on Facebook and Twitter that your book is now available and where they can buy it. Let all your associates in those “hook” interest online and live groups that the book is out, and remember to get the news out to your email groups too.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #9, Resources Required.

Feel free to contact me at writerchef@sbcglobal.net with any questions or to share your success stories! If you’d like to know more, let me know and I’ll put you on the mailing list for online workshops and information about my book, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Hidden Power within you Manuscript, “Finding Author Success” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony

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Sep 202012
 
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Marketing is building awareness that your book exists. An author’s marketing tools are:

  • Your Polished Image
  • Your Platforms Activity
  • Your Social Networking

Sound a little like everything discussed in these Tools for Author Success so far, doesn’t it?

It’s important that you understand that Marketing – creating awareness – is the only way promotions can work! If no one has heard of your book when you finally begin promoting it and creating events to sell it, NO ONE RESPONDS. They need to know the book and you exist before they’re willing to spend the money to buy the book.

 If you don’t blog regularly, use Facebook and Twitter effectively and on a regular basis, keep your websites updated and Media Room neat and full with every element readily downloadable for the media to use, you’ve dropped the ball. Only with all these things in play and working like a perfectly oiled machine, can you know that you’ve done your job and created awareness for your coming book. If you haven’t, all your promotional efforts will fall on deaf ears. Sorry. Sad but true.

Marketing isn’t a general rule, it’s the life blood life force for success. Take a serious look at your marketing efforts and determine if you’re doing everything you can to create awareness, or doing the bare minimum and wondering why your book sales are not fantastic. Marketing is like wearing a red silk tie every single day … everyone around you recognizes you as the person wearing the red silk tie! What we’re shooting for here is that every time the name of your book is mentioned on social networking, blogs, living, active websites and among readers of your … you and your book’s red tie are getting more and more recognizable! Soon everyone will be wearing red silk ties and reading YOUR BOOK!

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #8, Promotion.

Feel free to contact me at writerchef@sbcglobal.net with any questions or to share your success stories! If you’d like to know more, let me know and I’ll put you on the mailing list for online workshops and information about my book, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Hidden Power within you Manuscript, “Finding Author Success” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony


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Jun 222012
 
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As you know, I edit for Sizzler Editions, primarily for our Intoxication line.  While our audience is heavily into BDSM, I’m grooming authors and building an erotic romance line, kinky or otherwise.  You can see our guidelines here.  Anyway, I was talking with one of our authors about her next BDSM book and the discussion of plot came into play.  While she asked questions about how a particular scene should go and what details should be included, I spouted off the answers from memory (and recent events) as though it were nothing and I play with partners all day every day.

I wish.

She seemed surprised I felt at how I rattled off the information and could back it up with personal experiences, and then I remembered something.  She’s a new writer but that’s not really an issue.  Her experiences in the Lifestyle are non existent and research can only help a little if this is a new genre for you.

In fact, she had questions I didn’t’ even expect because when writing the same material these things seem like normalcy to me.  I know how each character is going to react to a singletailing session, or how they get turned on and what cranks their motor when my Dom hits that sweet spot on the ass.  It requires only enough thought to form and create the character.  For my author, it takes research, interviews and her doing the legwork (which in turn makes her a better author.)

I’m not sure but I’d take a stab and suggest that for people who write from their knowledge base and experiences, and can translate those experiences into marketable writing, the legwork is already done.  If you’re a crime solving detective in your daily life, and you want to be the next N. T. Morley, you simply take your daily life and apply it to your story, thus potentially working demons out, without having to break a sweat.

I’m mentioning this not as a deterrent, but one of the questions I get asked a lot is how do you write what you love and make it sell?  Well, the answer is going to be found mostly in Deborah Riley Magnus‘s posts on Author Success, but pulling from your hard earned experience and finding a way to relate those stories to a wider audience is a great place to start.  With BDSM being so huge (thanks to that trite known as 50 Shades of Grey) it only makes sense that our authors would stick around in this genre.

Erotica is a large field and there is room for everyone dedicated to the pursuit of understanding the business thereof.

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Jun 142012
 
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Every Author has an idea of what their image should be. Some are so perfect and careful about it, they have no image for the fans to connect with. Others are rebellious and insist on shocking first then wondering what they have so few fans or followers. It’s kind of like that line in the film Bull Durham, where baseball catcher, Crash Davis, comments on the fact that his astoundingly talented minor league pitcher is basically …

“Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.”

Okay, authors, let’s talk about your image. Please.

No Facebook or Twitter avatars your mother would be embarrassed to see. No pictures of your dog or cat cleaning itself. No photos of you drunk at a club, whooping it up. You’re an author and should be aware of your image. This doesn’t require a professional photo session with an expensive photographer, just a nice picture of you, clean and neat. We don’t need to see you working hard at the computer or appearing overly serious. You can show your personality, smile, enjoy the moment. Just remember, literary agents, publishers, other authors and your prospective book buyers are looking at that avatar. Are you really proud of it?          

If you prefer not to use a photo of yourself, your book cover is a good option. No book cover yet? Use an image that represents your book until you have one.

And one final suggestion, please don’t change your avatar picture more than once a year. It’s how your friends and followers recognize you. Don’t confuse us.

No matter what you write or who your audience is … YOU are a professional. You’re an author, be proud of it.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #7, Marketing.

Feel free to contact me at writerchef@sbcglobal.net with any questions or to share your success stories! If you’d like to know more, let me know and I’ll put you on the mailing list for online workshops and information about my book, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Hidden Power within you Manuscript, “Finding Author Success” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony

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Apr 242012
 
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Every Author has an idea of what their image should be. Some are so perfect and careful about it, they have no image for the fans to connect with. Others are rebellious and insist on shocking first then wondering what they have so few fans or followers. It’s kind of like that line in the film Bull Durham, where baseball catcher, Crash Davis, comments on the fact that his astoundingly talented minor league pitcher is basically …

“Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.”

Okay, authors, let’s talk about your image. Please.

No Facebook or Twitter avatars your mother would be embarrassed to see. No pictures of your dog or cat cleaning itself. No photos of you drunk at a club, whooping it up. You’re an author and should be aware of your image. This doesn’t require a professional photo session with an expensive photographer, just a nice picture of you, clean and neat. We don’t need to see you working hard at the computer or appearing overly serious. You can show your personality, smile, enjoy the moment. Just remember, literary agents, publishers, other authors and your prospective book buyers are looking at that avatar. Are you really proud of it?

If you prefer not to use a photo of yourself, your book cover is a good option. No book cover yet? Use an image that represents your book until you have one.

And one final suggestion, please don’t change your avatar picture more than once a year. It’s how your friends and followers recognize you. Don’t confuse us.

No matter what you write or who your audience is … YOU are a professional. You’re an author, be proud of it.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #7, Marketing.

Feel free to contact me at writerchef@sbcglobal.net with any questions or to share your success stories! If you’d like to know more, let me know and I’ll put you on the mailing list for online workshops and information about my book, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Hidden Power within you Manuscript, “Finding Author Success” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony

 

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Oct 192011
 
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Publicity is using the media to create relevant exposure for your book

Take a serious look at your book, especially your “hooks” those unique elements that not only make your book stand apart, but identify additional readers for your book beyond genre followers. What in your book or connected to your “hook” might lend itself to publicity or a charity? Connecting with a charity does several wonderful things. It shows you’re a caring author, it supports something you care about, and it connects with your story.

Don’t just randomly choose a charity. If your book has nothing to do with cancer research and none of the characters are cancer survivors, it’s not really productive to connect your book with that charity. If the charity is near and dear to your heart, by all means support it, but don’t connect it to your book, it will look and feel random.

If, on the other hand your story or non-fiction subject does directly connect with a charity, move ahead. Create fundraising events. Donate a portion of your book profits to the charity and make sure they know. Be sure to have the charity logo displayed with an announcement that a portion of your profits support Cancer Research, or The Kidney Foundation, or the ASPCA or whichever charity works.

It’s a kind of giving back that is good for the author’s soul and good for the book buyer’s soul. And, as long as you are doing well, the charity will notify it’s supporters that you are doing this. It just may result in more sales.

Be honest about this, no fake or half efforts. Charitable organizations all over the world are desperate for financial help. It’s a chance for the author to be a hero.

All of this takes place in the world of the media. Press releases and press contacts are a huge part of your publicity, and the charity will benefit from this press as well. Remember the Media Room in your Author Platform website? This is the kind of information that goes in there. If a newspaper does a story about your charity fundraising event, you post that story. If you are interviewed and/or a podcast is created, you post it in your Media Room. News doesn’t just happen, you have to make it happen.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #6, Your Image.

Feel free to contact me at writerchef@sbcglobal.net with any questions or to share your success stories! If you’d like to know more, let me know and I’ll put you on the mailing list for online workshops and information about my book, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Marketing Power Within Your Manuscript available November 5 in print and ebook.

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