Saturday, April 30, 2011
Marketing & Promotion using the Internet #2
Listen and Contribute
By: Stephanie Burkhart,
author of: The Giving Meadow
Nowadays, as the traditional publishing industry is challenged by bankruptcy, declining income, and the availably of books online with ereaders, more and more authors are embracing the Internet for self-promotion. Why? It's affordable. It allows you to reach potential readers outside of your normal sphere of influence. Self-promotion may seem a little overwhelming at first, but its okay to go at your own pace.
First, we all know you're a writer, but in order to sell books, you have to dedicate a certain amount of time (and money to marketing)
Consider this: If you're just starting out commit to spending 1 hour a day on marketing efforts. Also consider how much you can put aside for a marketing budget. I know several websites that will host the cover to your book for $10.00 a month or your book trailer for the same fee.
#2 – Think about who you audience is. Is it adults with children and preschoolers? (I'm lucky in that I write romance and children's stories. Both crossover well, as most romance readers are moms or grandmothers with school age children)
#3 – Target your audience. Join those Yahoo Groups where readers of your genre are and just listen for a couple of days to get the feel of the loop. Introduce yourself and let others get to know you. I know a bunch of authors on the Bragging Rites Yahoo Group and have made several valuable connections that way.
Remember: to build readers and a fan base, it's not all about you. Listen. Get to know what your readers like. Interact with them and build community.
Here are some "listening" ideas:
Set up Google alerts. This will notify you when your name, articles, books, and even Twitter handle are used on the Internet. When you get the alert that someone is promoting your name or work, pop on over and say "thanks." A small thank you goes a long way.
If there's something you don't understand – ask. It stimulates conversation.
Be polite. Just like w" Please," "thank you," and "you're welcome" along with a friendly online presence goes a long way.
By contributing, you show you're "down-to-Earth," just like the readers you are trying to attract. Here are some tips.
Give it away. Write a short story as free read. Give it away. People love to receive free things.
Use your blog to contribute. Don't just talk about you, your book, or how great you are – but really engage your audience. You can start with your hobbies. Do you love to watch baseball? It's baseball season. Have a baseball day on your blog and talk about the different teams. Talk about the differences going to a game now versus when you were a kid. Talk about gardening and flowers. Share your thoughts and impressions on the latest movie you saw. Ask other authors to visit you. If you have a cause you support like breast cancer awareness or the Japanese Relief, don't be afraid to talk about it. Many others support causes as well. I like to talk about lighthouses on the California coast on my blog.
NOTE: Engage, but don't feel like you have to get too personal. You can discuss hobbies, movies, books, favorite authors, even coffee, but it's all right to keep your personal life to yourself.
TIP: Widgets send readers & followers to your BEST places on the net.
Don't be afraid to share reviews of books you've read. It's a great way to contribute and interact with READERS.
Here's a Net checklist:
Update these sites frequently and often. I use tripod as my host. They offer free packages (you have to allow for ads) or at their cheapest: $5.00 a month you can get a basic, ad free website. Most web hosts have templates and you can create the website yourself without having to pay big bucks to have someone set it up for you.
Hang out on:
Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Ask a question to stimulate conversation. For example: What's your favorite 80's band? Get people talking in a general way and talk about your books will come.
Home Away from Home:
Your Amazon.com author page.
Visit your Friends:
Forums, Yahoo Groups, Good reads, Shelfari & JackFlap.
Reference for this Article: "50 Simple Ways to Build your Platform," by Christina Katz, Writer's Digest, March/April 2011, Pgs. 40-45.
Friday, April 29, 2011
2 a :a picture (as an alter piece) or carving in three panels side by side
b :something composed or presented in three parts or sections; especially : TRILOGY
The second definition is what your artist is most likely referring to, a picture (such as a painting, drawing, sculpture, or rendering) that has three panels or parts placed next to each other, or is designed to compliment, and be presented together, telling a full 'story'.
Oh, and the second question for today's post ... And why does my artist think I'd want one?
What I've been showing above is a promotional triptych I recently finished for Harry Gilleland's book Alric & Anneliese (a 4RV Publishing release). Originally meant to be a pair of illustrations for use in the book's trailer (since the book isn't illustrated and the cover art is abstract, not making it very story-telling friendly, but more representational), a third piece was needed to tie everything together. And what's a love story (that surrounds knights, barbarians, kings, and ladies) without a good ole battle scene. And my first professional triptych was born. To learn more about triptychs, Wikipedia has a really good write up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triptych
The trailer the above illos were created for will be posted here on the 4RV news blog Saturday, May 7. Be sure to check it out.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
- Information. A person wants to be sure that correct information can be found somewhere. I have found mistakes on Amazon, as have others.
- Credibility. An author, illustrator, etc. needs to show he takes his work seriously enough to provide an online presence.
- A comfort level of reader interaction. The web site holder controls the amount of interaction, but readers can interact. Readers want to know about authors and illustrators, but they want those authors and illustrators to “temper pride with facts.”
- Promotion, promotion, promotion. Even the famous have web sites to help promote themselves. We, as not so well known people, definitely need promotional aid.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The term "DUMMY BOOK" may bring to mind those yellow and black How To Books for Dummies, but a Dummy Book for a prospective publisher or author is quite different.
Illustrators will not always be asked to create one, but many will want to create one as a promotional tool, or as an example to show to a publisher. Writers may want to know how their work translates into a set number of illustrations. Self publishers will welcome one as well.
Authors need not submit an illustrated version of their work unless they are actually the illustrator. Publishers choose the best illustrator for any particular picture book.
The purpose of the dummy book is to allow the editor to see what a final version of a picture book will look like. Changes made at this stage affect the final finished book. That is why only one or two of the illustrations in a dummy book need to be finished.
There are a number of ways to create a Picture Book dummy.
Traditionally picture books consist of 32 interior pages. This may not be the case for some publishers and with self publishing on the rise there is a great deal of variance in page count.
For the purpose of this article I am going to stick to 32 pages, and a wrap around cover. (I will cover the construction of a dust jacket and the template used for one in another article.)
Your page count (32) needs to include a Title Page, A copyright / ISBN page, a dedication page, a Half Title page if the editor request one and perhaps some place for a bit about the author and illustrator.
The first step is to really get involved with the manuscript. Page breaks may be decided by the editor or the illustrator may be given that task.
If you have previously laid out your ideas on a story board it would look something like this:
Note that the actual illustrations in this particular book do not begin until page 5. It is acceptable and sometimes effective to include a portion of the first illustration on pages 4 and 5 if the dedication on page 4 allows room for this.
With this outline and the manuscript you can begin the process of sketching your characters, selecting passages to illustrate and finishing all the illustrations in sketch form. How detailed your sketches are will depend entirely on how you plan to finish the illustrations. Some illustrators use the story board to simple WRITE out what they plan, others will make a small thumbnail drawing prior to more detailed full size sketches.
The sketches for a dummy book need only be detailed enough to mimic the action of the story but still need to be representative enough for an editor to know how the illustration relates to the text.
Assuming the page size has been decided and your sketches are finished to the correct size, you are almost ready to begin. Since most publishers will want at least one finished illustration along with the sketches, you need to have that done as well. It can be sent separately or included as part of the dummy.
Many editors prefer the finished pieces to be separate so that they can hand them around during meetings or conferences.
You need to make copies of your sketches and a photo copy or scan of the finished work. Originals should never be sent in the dummy.
With all the copies ready you have several options for assembling your copied sketches.
You can staple the pages together (not a great idea ... but some do this)
You can use artist tape to tape the backs of each page to the next and then tape all the pages together....
You can mount each page on another sheet of paper large enough to hold two pages on one side and two pages on the other side. IF you do this you will need to leave a little room in the gutter.
Be sure to take into consideration where each page will go before you commit to gluing down your illustrations.
Take the first set of four larger sheets of paper with all the illustrations glued on back to back in order and sew them together with heavy button hole thread. This will create one "SIGNATURE" of 16 page sides. Do the same with the next and then sew both "SIGNATURES" together. I use a heavy carpet needle to get through the paper. But, by having the illustrations mounted on a thinner large sheet of paper, the gutter in between is a bit easier to sew through.
When all the pages are together it is time to attach the cover. It can be larger sheets of paper with the illustration adhered or it can consist of a cardboard backing with the illustrations glued on top. The cover needs ample allowance on the spine to accommodate the dummy book within.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Now, for those who celebrate Easter: May today bring peace, hope, and love through Christ's sacrifice for us.
Friday, April 22, 2011
- "To start at the very beginning, the first factor to be dealt with is to be sure your story has all the essential elements. According to Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, there are five major elements of a story: characters, setting, plot, point of view, and theme."
So let's start ... there are five major elements of a story: characters, setting, plot, point of view, and theme ... In writing, these are most likely very different than what I am about to do, but just as important from an artist's, specifically an illustrator's, POV (point of view).
Setting: Look around the 'room.' What do you see? What don't you see? Everything in the image means SOMETHING, hints at SOMETHING. And not necessarily a specific event or scene. In this case, the scene is contrived. No where in the book is this specific scene described. Although that's normally what I do, illustrate a specific scene, this time I wanted more of a general story, while wrapping it into a plausible scenario. I took great care to make the building look authentic, also. If I'd have put these characters in a modern building, it would have looked like a play, not reality. The furnishings, the props, and the lighting has to fit the book's theme and content.
Plot: Here is the fun part. When looking at a scene's plot, I get to delve even deeper into the characters and the story. The chessboard, the wine bottles, the map, even how the map is held in place tells more about the story and personalities of the characters, what moves the story forward. These are clues that may never be mentioned specifically in the book. But as you get to know a character, you get a feeling about things they may do during the course of the story. Things the author didn't mention, but would be something the character would do. This is where your individuality as the artist can be expressed best, because it didn't come from the book at all. It came from the artist, alone.
POV: This is where you may see a big difference in how POV to an author vs POV to an artist differ most. The point of view is something I often like to play with. By placing the table at an odd angle, and choosing who sits or stands where, I can tamper with what characters get more focus than others. I also can draw the viewer into the scene, like they are right in the room, by placing a simple barrel holding a few bottles close to the bottom edge of the scene, making it appear to be right in front of, or beside, the onlooker.
Theme: Very important. Do your best to be accurate to the period. Pretend a historian might pick it apart as to what is fantasy vs reality. (Here, I deliberately incorporated some fantasy, for interest reasons). Do some research of the period and region to stay true to the book's general theme.
As you see, even though an illustrator or cover artist looks at manuscript elements a bit differently, they are just as much key to a well developed piece, that is meant to represent any book, either symbolically or literally. And of course, if the writer doesn't flow their own version of these elements, it makes it that much harder on the artist. It's a team effort.
Tell me ... What do you see in this image that gives you clues to the book?
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Publishers want to know your Writer’s Platform (Marketing Platform) – They want to know: “Who is going to buy your book? Who is going to entrust their money to purchase what you have written?”
What Readers Are You Bringing to the Selling/Buying Table?
The following are articles that tell a little more about the Writer's Platform (Marketing Platform):
2. Book Marketing Experts http://workingwritersandbloggers.com/2011/02/28/what-is-a-platform-and-how-can-you-identify-it/
3. Joel Friedlander http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/03/author-platform-what-are-you-waiting-for/
Who Knows You?
In other words, publishers want to know how many people have heard or seen your name in person, in books, or on the internet. The number of people who know you increases your chances of selling your book.
Jonathan Fields http://tribalauthor.com/author-platform/ says publishers want to know the answers to the following questions:
How many people are on your email list or subscribers to your blog?
How many followers do you have on Twitter? (You want thousands.)
How many Facebook friends or fans do you have? (You want hundreds.)
How many monthly visitors do you get? (I think you want to have a steadily increasing number.)
Blog or Website
• A blog is a website.
• A website does not necessarily have a blog.
• A website is not necessarily a blog.
• A website has static pages that look the same and have few changes.
• A blog is technically, a guest book with posts and comments.
• A blog is not static; it changes with new posts and/or new comments.
Websites and Blogs Are Part of a Writer’s Platform
Read Jenny B's article, "Why All Writers Should Have Their Own Website:" http://www.bukisa.com/articles/321187_why-all-writers-should-have-their-own-website
Makes them known by more people.
Gives a place to market the writer’s books or products thus making a plus for publishers to publish their works.
Web Presence Is Part of a Writer’s Platform
Search on the internet for your name. It’ll show webpages, blogs, comments on blogs, facebook, twitter, and other links.
Each time you create a blog, website page, or leave a comment, you create a listing for Google’s Search. You are increasing your web presence.
My Web Presence-Website and Blogs
A search on the internet for Joan Y. Edwards today gives you thousands of possible links. It didn’t start out that way. In 2001, I started out with one link on our church’s website. I wrote devotionals and puzzles for children’s liturgy for children who might not be able to get to church.
In 2002 I took an online course at CPCC to learn how to create my own website. Because I had a website, I got a job writing and consulting for Liturgical Publications for four years. My website and my writing got the editor’s attention. He liked my style of writing.
Because I started my Never Give Up blog, writers joined me in submitting their work to publishers and/or agents on a monthly basis in a group called PubSub3rdFri. Submitting more often, increased our chances of getting published. I’ve been a guest blogger on other blogs. My ideas have appeared in the SCBWI-Carolinas Pen & Palette. A college writing instructor shares my blogposts with her students. I was chosen to interview Jeff Herman, author of Jeff Herman’s Guide to Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2011. The number of visitors has grown from 1 to 8,316. All of these things increased my web presence. Now more people know me or about me.
Why am I telling you this? I want you to know it doesn’t happen all at once. It all happens one click at a time. One word at a time. One learning venture at a time. Believe in yourself. Begin that website. Start that blog. Take a step to increase your web presence and make your writing platform stronger today.
Joan Y. Edwards