Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ch-Ch-Change....

Good afternoon! Just a quick note:

I have accepted an internal promotion to Acquisitions Editor with Tate Publishing, effective October 1. Please bear with me as I undergo training and, slowly but surely, update my blog.

For those I've worked with in marketing, I have enjoyed every one of you! Best wishes as you continue your journey with a new marketing rep.

For those I will start working with, I look forward to building a professional relationship with you as I review your work.

Blessings,
Amanda

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Becoming Newsworthy!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the following conversation:
    Author: “Why hasn’t the media shown interest in my book?”
     Amanda: “Well, let’s start with the basics. Why should your book matter to them?”
     Author: “Well, I’m an author. This is a new book.”
     Amanda: “That’s great, and we are definitely proud of this book and believe it to be newsworthy. But the media doesn’t.”
     Author: “Why not? I don’t believe you.”
     Amanda: “With over 1 million new titles released every year, not to mention all the books that are already in circulation, your book quite honestly doesn’t mean anything to those reporters. They get similar requests every day. Whether you believe me or not, that’s the truth.”
     Author: “They just need the right pitch.”
     Amanda: “I couldn’t agree more. But the pitch they are looking for is different than the pitch you are thinking of.”
     Author: “How so?”
     Amanda: “They want something that is newsworthy. While you writing a book is of note, it will still be of note in 20 years. There is no immediacy to it. What we have to show them is urgency…why this is news right now.”
     Author: “How do we do that?”
     Amanda: “Simple. By using an event to catch their attention. That gives the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY that all reporters look for. Without that event, we are just sending them the HOW. They get so many HOWs every day, they weed the HOW-only pitches out.”

Moral to the story: don't expect you and your book alone to attract attention. There must be an immediate plug for a press release to be effective. 
The best way to do this is with an event. 

Another great way to do this is to tag on to another HOTT (with TWO t's....so something BIG) news topic. Be sure to alert your marketing rep when there is something you are connected to. Send him/her the link to the story, what it has to do with your book, your response, and a quote they can use. That's a great way to catch some attention of the press.

Regardless, I see the most response from the media to our contacts regarding events. It's a tangible piece of news they can quickly identify then run with.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If You Love a Writer

Today's post is courtesy of Eileen Flanagan, award-winning author of numerous titles (the latest of which, The Wisdom to Know the Difference, is coming out in paperback September 2). If you are a writer, read this and send it to everyone you know! If you know someone who is a writer, read it and send to everyone you know! In today's publishing culture, the support of F-Cubed (Friends, Family, and Fans) is vital for a book to find success.


After ten years of writing around my children’s schedules, I have a book coming out soon, and friends have been asking what they can do to support me. I’ve been touched by their offers and yet reticent to ask too much, especially of busy people in a tough economy. At the same time, the online writers groups I belong to are a buzz day and night with authors trying to figure out how to publicize their work before the entire publishing industry goes bankrupt. So, as a community service, I’ve decided to write up ten suggestions for all the people who love a book author who’s been fighting the publicity odds (Fellow writers, feel free to forward this link or add your own suggestions in the comment section.):
1.   Buy your friend’s book. If you can afford it, buy it for everyone in your extended family. If you can’t afford it, ask your local librarian to order a copy. In fact, you can suggest it to your librarian whether you buy a copy yourself or not.
2.   Don’t wait until Christmas or Hanukkah to pick up a copy. How it does in its first weeks determines whether a book will stay on the bookstore shelves or be sent back to the warehouse to be shredded (along with your friend’s ego). Try to buy it as soon as it’s published, or better yet pre-order a copy, which makes your friend look good and gets your friend’s publisher excited about the book’s prospects. An excited publisher will invest more in publicity, while a bookstore that is getting advanced orders is more likely to stock the book on its shelves.
3.   Friends often ask where they should get the book, which is a tricky question. In the long-term, it is in every writer’s best interest to support independent booksellers (reader’s too, actually). If you don’t have a favorite one yourself, you can go to IndieBound to find one near you. When a book is newly released, however, it may help your writer friend more to buy it through a big chain, so they keep it stocked where the most people can find it. Likewise, a high sales rate on Amazon can get people’s attention, and if your friend’s website links directly to Amazon, she may be part of a program where she makes extra money when someone enters Amazon through the link on her website and then makes a purchase. I personally have links to several booksellers,  on the theory that it’s good to spread the love around.
4.   If you genuinely like your friend’s book, write a review on Amazon or Goodreads, mention it on Facebook and Twitter, and recommend it to your book group.
5.   If you’re friend’s book is sci fi, and you’re more of a Jhumpa Lahiri fan, say something like, “I’m so proud of you for following your passion,” and skip writing the review.
6.   If your friend is a good public speaker, recommend her to your church, synagogue, mosque, ashram, kid’s school, Rotary club, etc. If you live far away, your friend might get to come visit you and write it off her taxes.
7.   If you have a website or blog, link to your friend’s website. The more people who link to her, the better she looks to the search engines, which may help people who don’t already love her to find her book. To be really helpful, don’t link on the words “my friend,” but on whatever keywords your friend might be using to find her target audience. (For example, I would especially appreciate people using the phrase “Serenity Prayer” to link to my page About the Serenity Prayer.)
8.   If your friend could legitimately be a reference on some Wikipedia page, add her as one, with a link to the most relevant page of her website. Authors can’t tout themselves on Wikipedia without getting a “conflict of interest” badge of shame, but there is nothing more fun for a writer than discovering a spike in her search engine traffic due to a link posted on Wikipedia. It’s kind of like having a secret Santa.
9.   Don’t ask your friend if she has thought about trying to get on Oprah. Trust me– she’s thought of that.
    10. If you pray, go ahead. It couldn’t hurt to pray she gets on Oprah.

To learn more about Eileen's writing and speaking engagements, visit Eileen Flanagan

Friday, July 30, 2010

Royalty Day!

How does time fly by so fast? Seems like we just did this...

Today is Royalty Day at Tate Publishing. Our accounting & sales division has been preparing statements and checks all month for 2010 Quarter 2. Today we are reviewing them and mailing them!

In addition to the royalties we are sending out, we are also sending out returned investments for our authors who have reached their initial sales goals.

What an exciting day to be an author!

If you want to see some stats from a NYT Bestselling Author's royalties, check out this link: Reality of a Times Bestseller

Cheerio!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Freelance Author

Ask any writer out there: being published marks your success. It's a third-party endorsement of your writing, ideas, beliefs, and opinions. Many writers have one goal, and one goal only. Becoming Published.  For the writer with a full-length manuscript and dreams of seeing their work in book form, they believe all the publishing they will ever need is achieved once the publishing contract is signed.


How wrong they all are.  The movie 2012 is a great pop-culture reference for this. The main character, played by John Cusack, is published...but as his ex-wife's new husband points out, he only sold 412 copies. Cusack's character finds himself employed as a chauffeur while working on a supposed second manuscript.

While having a book published is most definitely an accomplishment, it should merely be one of many publishing endeavors...not the end-all of an author's dreams.Writers of any type should continually be looking for publishing opportunities within their respective genres.

Many published authors operate on that "starving artist" budget Cusack's character found himself on. Yet  there are thousands, possibly millions, of writers banking large salaries through non-book publishing alone. The tenacity that non-book-published writers display is to be modeled for the published book author.
Why? A myriad of reasons can be applied, including:
a) establishment of the writer's credibility;
b) new readers to follow a writer's works;
c) supplemental income;
d) potential of media opportunities and/or speaking engagements based on the quality of writing and development of a writer's career;
e) increased book sales (for the author; increased paid writing gigs for writers).


For the non-fiction writer, this would be in magazines, journals, publications, newsletters, blogs, etc. supporting the subject matter of which the writer is an expert (use the same process as the RRCS Equation...just be looking for writing opportunities, not book sale opportunities).


For the fiction/literary writer, this would be in magazines, journals, publications, newsletters, blogs, etc. that support one of two subjects:
a) the genre in which the author writes (for fiction writers, short story journals; for poets, poetry journals; etc.).
b) the interests of an author's intended audience (see the RRCS Equation for some ideas... other examples include: for a target audience of mothers, pursue writing opportunities with publications those mothers read, such as MOPs publications, parenting publications, housekeeping publications, cooking publications, etc.).


How to find these publications and get published. Much like the book world, there is heavy competition within the freelance writing world.
The best ways to pursue third-party, non-book publications are outlined below: 

1) Outline your writing objectives. Each writer and his/her goals are unique. 
2) Establish a portfolio. The easiest way to do this is to establish a website and blog; be sure to add writing samples! 
3) Research: Check out Writers Weekly Market and Poets & Writers' "Tools for Writers" to get started with legitimate opportunities. Writer's boards and magazines are a great resource to identify these publications. Google.com is also a useful place to find opportunities when searching for genre-specific publications. Then compile a list of the different genre publications to pursue. READ through at least one issue before pursuing that publication; a writer wastes his/her time submitting to publications that his/her writing is not suited for. 
4) Request writers' submission guidelines for each. READ those guidelines then submit as instructed. 
5) Keep a list of what has been submitted to where. Every three months review this list; at that point follow-up is usually acceptable, if not otherwise specified within the submission guidelines.
6) For each submission accepted and subsequently published, the writer needs to request an electronic version of the publication to add to the writer's portfolio of writing samples.  


Never, Ever, Ever underestimate the power of a byline. If a reader likes what he/she reads, they will immediately check out the website listed in that byline. If the writer has books available through that site (or at least linked to it), in most cases the reader will end up purchasing the products if interest is held!
Regardless of the medium, that is what the entire publication process is about: capturing the attention and loyalty of readers. A well-rounded writer in today's industry pursues this from all angles possible.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Why PRINCE Lost His Crown...

Dear readers:

While browsing the internet and reading some of my favorite blogs (two things I need to do more of on a regular basis!), I came across this quote from Prince posted on thedailywh.at:

The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it. The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you. 
http://bit.ly/9wh85D

Seriously? Did he really just say that?

Must confess: I snorted loudly and woke up Barron, my puppy who was nestled on a bed of pillows and dreaming of squirrel chasing, when I read his comment about the advance.

My father always told me that unrealistic expectations are what makes relationships fail. No wonder no one in our younger generations know who Prince is. Or have any respect for him.

The above quote sounds like the lamentations of a has-been who doesn't care to stay up on the trends but then wants to complain that his success is faltering.

Honestly, this is an attitude seen in the book industry EVERY day. We are just a few years behind the music industry when it comes to recognizing the role technology plays in our industry.

Things. Don't. Work. The. Same. They. Used. To.

Have you noticed that the only places to buy music in person these days are at the same places where you can buy literature in person? The music industry is piggy-backing on the book industry to hold on to the old retail method as long as possible.

But there aren't music stores opening left and right anymore, simply because there is no demand for it! [those who know about the book industry's current predicament know that this is where the book industry is headed]


My husband's favorite movie is HIGH FIDELITY with John Cusack. It's a charming movie, but each time I watch it I find the record shop Cusack runs is a bit depressing: it's entirely dependent upon a niche audience, and that niche audience dwindles every day.


Why should someone get in their car, drive to a store, spend 20 minutes looking for something and avoiding the underpaid salespersons, pay too much for a product, drive home, then upload it to their computer/music players-----when they could with one click purchase the entire album, or select songs, without tax, without leaving their comfy chair or finding their debit card?

"It's all about convenience, baby." [I'm imitating a Humphrey Bogart-esque accent here]

Let the Fireworks Fall Where They May
Okay, so what is the purpose of this *somewhat depressing* post?

It's just me listening to Bernadette Peters sing "Some People (Live)" on Pandora and contemplating the changes in store for all entertainment industries. Actors, musicians, producers, etc. all seem to be embracing it a bit better than authors do.

That's a shame.

I'm not advocating giving away rights or agreeing blindly to what consumers want.

But there is a balance, and the only way to find success is to master that balance.

With this every changing consumer-driven society, ANY creator, producer, writer, artist, business person, marketer, etc.---that is, anyone with something they want others to want---MUST embrace the consumer's demands and find a way to compromise, to make the consumers' wants fit into the producer's needs.

My challenge to you today is to learn. Find out what is going on within your industry.

If you are a writer, you should be researching and learning what new challenges the book industry is facing.

If you are an artist, you should be researching and learning what new challenges the music industry is facing.

If you are a chef, you should be researching and learning what new challenges the restaurant industry is facing.

If you are an actor/musical theater actor, you should be researching and learning what new challenges the performance industry is facing.

If you are a parent, you should be researching and learning what new challenges parents and your children are facing.

If you are a pastor, you should be researching and learning what new challenges church bodies are facing.

If you are a marketer, you should be researching and learning what new challenges the marketing industry is facing.

Best place to start is with google. Type in your industry and hit "news". You'll be amazed what new things you can learn.

Subscribe to newsletters, blog posts, etc., anything that will offer you a new perspective and information on what you have chosen to do with your life.

And keep in mind: if you don't agree, that doesn't change things. Your competition will adapt, and when they do so, they will take your target audiences' business, money, loyalty, and hearts.

But don't take my word for it. Find this out yourself, and you'll have a much better grasp of how to build your brand.

Friday, July 2, 2010

We Got a Dollar, Hey Hey Hey Hey!

Ever see the Little Rascals 1990s movie?

Here's my favorite clip: Hey Hey Hey Hey!

I love the innocence in their voices and faces; not to mention the savvy 90's fashion.

And they are so HAPPY about their dollar. They poured a lot of hard work into getting it (I think it involved chasing a dog?), and they saw their hard work pay off.

Just a short but sweet reminder that EVERY book sale counts. The intrinsic value of a new reader is why we are all in this business anyways! :)

Have a groovy July 4th, enjoy some hamburgers and ice cream, don't get spooked by the fireworks, and I'll see you back here on Tuesday!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blogging Resources

Nearly every day, I'm asked for info on blogging. I've compiled my favorite links/articles/resources on blogging. Rather than sending it out multiple times a day, I'm posting it here.

Here they are in no particular order:

http://www.problogger.net/












Friday, May 14, 2010

Lord Gaga: sometimes imitation pays off

While I was on my way to work this morning, my radio station of choice played a clip of Ellen's interview with Oklahoma singing sensation Greyson Michael Chance. Here's a link to the clip: Ellen & Greyson Michael Chance

The news/internet is all abuzz with "Lord Gaga", as he's been christened, playing off of his talented vocalization of Lady Gaga's song "Paparazzi."

I must admit that I am very impressed by this 12-yr-old boy from Edmond, Oklahoma.

But I can guarantee you that his talent isn't what put him on Ellen's radar.

Sure, if you want to look at it with general observations, you can say his talent is what got him that spot on her show, but that's like saying that Monica Lewinsky became a household name because she's pretty.

The Missing Link...and no, it's not a caveman.
You know those Geico commercials with the cavemen? "It's so easy a caveman can do it."

Well, publicity is not that simple, and the missing link between Greyson and Ellen---and between Monica and the news reporters--is nothing related to hard or easy work.

Monica Lewinsky was offered the position as the spokeswoman for a clothing line because of her connection with President Clinton and the ensuing media frenzy.

In today's example, Greyson is merely riding the coattails of Lady Gaga, who is a worldwide phenomenon right now.

Authorization Not Required
Note that both Greyson and Monica did not need permission from their "celebrity."

Greyson didn't ask Lady Gaga to endorse him. He didn't seek her approval on his songs. All he did was upload a video of him covering one of her songs. Giving credit where it is due, he listed her name as well as the title, since the song is hers, in his youtube listing. He even noted that he had no rights to the song, in effect showing that he was not endorsed by her.

And it's blown up to over 11 million views. [Greyson's "Paparazzi" Video] At 8 million views, Ellen brought him on her show and arranged for Lady Gaga to call and endorse him.

Now he's a hit, and I bet that he'll have music deals, appearances, etc. out the wazoo. Hence the new nickname: Lord Gaga.

As a Lady Gaga fan myself (yes, I am going to her concert!), I can't wait to get a cd of Lord Gaga. I love his style, love his covers, and love his original work as well. Also keep in mind that he effectively drew more attention back to Lady Gaga too. He's not using her here; he's just throwing himself into her dialogue with the listening public.

Monica....well, do I really need to explain myself here?

Be Kind, Rewind
Okay, here's my summation of my post today: always ALWAYS be looking for ways to connect you, your talent, your product to a celebrity.

THIS DOES NOT MEAN SENDING YOUR PRODUCT TO HIM/HER AND EXPECTING A REVIEW/RESPONSE/ENDORSEMENT. 

That rarely if ever happens to new products.

But maybe you think that Tiger's wife should read your book. Blog about it; mention Tiger's name in your tweets; explain why she and others in her situation needs your book and how exactly he/she could benefit from it.

Find a way to imitate or respond to any celebrities in a manner that will attract their audience, which is your target audience, to you and your product.

Lead by Example
I like to do crafts, floral arrangements, cook from scratch, etc. I'm utterly and irrevocably in love with the Martha Stewart Brand.

If I wanted to promote myself and any product or service I offered, I would put together a video series and upload to youtube. Perhaps I would take something that the MS brand doesn't explain well, or something that they didn't offer directions and pictures to, and make it the focus of one video. I'd upload it to youtube, include the links to Martha's site with her info on it, and I'd link it wherever I found people looking for the info (such as blogs, forums, web pages, comments, etc.).

Then they can watch other videos I've got on my youtube channel, and then they'll visit my website, and eventually they will order my product...even if it has nothing to do with any of those videos.

Make Like a Tree and Leaf
Flowers and trees put off thousands and thousands of seeds each season. If given the right soil [market], effective sun [buzz], and enough water [momentum], the seed [product] will take root and grow into a new flower or tree [brand.]

That is the goal of every person who holds a position involving marketing. It should be an author's goal as well.

Question: Think of your life, your product, your talents, your hobbies, your dreams, etc. What figures would you identify with? What celebrity figures does your target audience follow? How can you direct attention to that figure as well as to your product?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Voir Dire the Author

Long, long ago, in a world not so different from our own, a blond high school student learned the inner workings of the court room through the great program of High School Mock Trial.

Said blond high school student and her team made it to the state championship. Though they lost, the blond received the award for best witness.

And while all of that brings back fun memories, one other lesson really took root: Voir Dire.

The Courtroom Voir Dire
According to my sister-in-law (an Assistant District Attorney, and yes her badge is very very nifty), voir dire means picking "apart a proposed expert by asking them questions to prove they are experts."

So this process is how a courtroom determines a potential witness' expertise...or destroys his/her credibility.

My brother, also an attorney, broke it down more for me (have you ever tried decoding legalese?), rather than me finding a canned answer on legal.com.

The goal of a witness in any trial is to tell what he/she knows.

An expert witness, however, must base his/her testimony on
1) sufficient facts/data that is
2) based on reliable principles/methods and
3) applies the principles/methods to the facts of the case.

Also, an expert witness must have sufficient knowledge, experience, skill, training or education.

Code for: *something that makes them credible*

The Everyday Voir Dire
Although you don't realize it, we conduct this same process every day in our professional AND personal lives.

When a police officer pulls you over, he/she doesn't take your word for who you are; you have to present your credentials (aka, drivers license and insurance).

If a police officer comes to your door, you don't let him/her in until you've seen the badge.

When you make a doctor appt/visit, you don't accept that he's a doctor just because he wears a white jacket. You look for the licensing information and education info hung on the walls. You ask around for recommendations before making the appt.

Our whole world revolves around Voir Dire. We are just too cynical to take people at face value anymore.

The Author Voir Dire
Guess what? Authors undergo the same process when readers are faced with the decision of reading/buying a book.

Readers pick up a book usually because it's been recommended to them.

BUT if they don't know about the author--or don't know about the book itself, which is the position most unknown authors' titles are in--they want to make sure their money is well-spent and that the time they invest in reading will be productive.

Author Voir Dire: Question #1
The big question an author must answer before expecting a reader to pick up his/her book is this: 

Why should you [reader] read my book?

It's always revealing when you ask an author this outright. Most of the time, the author stutters and stammers a response.

Sometimes they get huffy that you've even asked.


But this is the easy part! An author evidently wrote a book for a reason. Well, there's a natural compliment to that motivation, which is the reason that people should read the book.

All authors must be prepared for that question, as it's the first step in the Voir Dire process. 

Author Voir Dire: Question #2 
Why does your [author] opinion/voice matter?

This question is one both non-fiction and fiction writers must answer.

What benefits do your philosophy/story/presentation offer that similar products don't offer? What credentials do you offer as an author? What affirms your role as an expert, as someone to be listened to? 

Exhibit A
If you ever have the opportunity to chat with an expert in your field, do so. For me, that means chatting with successful professionals on the industry side, as well as with successful authors.

I once had the pleasure of attending a dinner with Pat Conroy. For those who don't know, he's the author of "The Great Santini", which was turned into a fabulous film, as well as many other titles.

"The Great Santini" is the story of a teenage male growing up as the son of an abusive military officer. It details his experiences as he transitions into manhood.

The majority of the dinner was spent chatting about his works. His speech that followed established his credibility on the subject matter.

He doesn't have a degree in psychology, but that doesn't mean he is not an expert on military life, education, and the effects of an abusive homelife.

He established details of his own childhood as the son of a military officer, and he vividly explained the treatment he had endured. He told stories of how his family responded to his portrayals of his family in various books (most notably THE GREAT SANTINI and MY LOSING SEASON), and even relayed his siblings' responses that indicate his portrayal of his father was more gracious than the man was in real life.

Why do people listen to Pat Conroy? After all, many of his fellow Citadel graduates disapprove of his writings concerning the school and military life.

But he has established that his view of these topics was won with blood, sweat, and tears. While it might not be endorsed by experts in those respective industries, the book resounds with the thousands who have similar experiences. [visit Pat's site at http://www.patconroy.com/]  

Exhibit B
Let's look at another example: the Oprah/James Frey controversy. (if you aren't sure to what I'm referring, click here. No one has ever questioned the skill of his writing.

Voir Dire. His "experiences" were not real, and therefore he effectively hung himself by claiming a level of expertise he could never reach. 

My Witness Testimony
As a professional in the publishing field, as well as a young professional deeply entrenched in local community, social, and political organizations, I interact with experts every day. Some of these are authors. Some aren't. Some are authors, but aren't experts.

My experience and knowledge of the industry, professional establishment, marketing protocols, and etiquette are my CV for being an expert.

As an expert, here is my testimony in this court case: I firmly believe that the reason authors become successful is due to the establishment of their expertise. In fact, to my knowledge there has never been a successful author who didn't first establish his/her credibility as an expert.

Here are some valid ways that new, unknown authors can establish their credibility. Remember: writing a book doesn't make you an expert. You write the book because you ARE the expert.

1) Adjust your mindset: many authors come to me expecting me to make them an expert. I will gladly share and promote your expertise, but you have to think you are an expert before I market you as one. I am not about to set up events and publicize for an "expert" whose actions and attitude aren't of the right caliber. As an expert, this should shine through everything you do:
                -how you dress (be professional!)
                -how you talk (take some public speaking courses, or do research online. Practice the art of conversation with family and friends, and try making a video of yourself conducting a reading or giving a lecture, then use it for personal critique. Doing this periodically is a great way to grow as a public speaker)
                -how you write (use spell check. If you have trouble with grammar, find a personal friend/family member to review your emails, letters, etc. before you hit send or stick it in the mail. If someone reads an email/letter from you that is full of errors, they will immediately discredit you as an author. Think of it as the author equivalent to the airbrushing done on cover magazine images. The final product is what matters.)
                -what you say (be sure that any claims you make are well supported with research and/or facts)
                -how you present yourself---aka, your demeanor (getting upset and being rude to a store clerk or interviewer reflects poorly on you and your book. Don't forget that many times one's impression of your book is tied to their impression of you!)

2) Freelance work: authors and yet unpublished writers (who I meet outside of the office) ask me every day what else they can be doing to market their book. If you bring me an author who is pursuing freelance work in credible outlets (that is, not just on their own blog, but in newspapers, magazines, journals, newsletters, corporate publications, etc.---anything that requires review and acceptance by an editor/manager), I can close more events and book selling opportunities. Beefing up one's curriculum vitae with a "press log" as I like to call it (that is, any writings by the author that has been published in a third-party media outlet) is invaluable.

3) Website: when you want to know about someone, you google them, right? Well, if you don't have a web page, how can they find out more about you? I suggest you visit the websites of your favorite authors. See what options they have, what supplements they offer to their books (free downloads, etc.). Use this as a portal through which you can continue contact with your readers. 

My Closing Statement
Regardless of what your long-term goals are, I encourage you embrace your credibility and establish your authority as an expert. That not only will help you find success, but it gives meaning to your projects. And that is ultimately how you make an impact on a reader's heart. 


My Challenge to You: Voir Dire yourself. Identify the weak spots in your CV, your credibility, your demeanor, your presentation, etc. I'd love to hear from you on what you discover about yourself!  

Friday, May 7, 2010

In Honor of David K. Nelson

I was about to write my post today when I received a call informing me that author David K. Nelson unexpectedly passed away this past week.

I've worked with David for about 7 months, and he was a sweetheart of a man. He was so excited about his book, TRUCKING WITH NOAH.

To say I'm shocked is an understatement.

So I'm dedicating this week's post to this sweet sweet man and his family. We will miss you, David. Your warmth, your enthusiasm, and your dreams were such a contribution--not only to my life and the Tate Publishing family, but also to the world.

David's Facebook Page

David's Facebook Page for Trucking with Noah


Friday, April 30, 2010

Royalty Day!

This is just to say hi as I take a quick break from stuffing envelopes with checks and statements, stamping and sealing, and mailing out our 2010 Q1 Royalties! I'll be back to normal workdays next week.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Ugly Nature of Peer Reviews

Eons ago, before I embraced my inner poet and pursued a career in publishing, both my husband and I were immersed in the world of musical theater.

As it so happens, we were members of the same vocal master class, which is actually how we met. (This is a long story that I'll shed light on another day.)

Everything--from pitch, tone, carriage, projection, selection, and even appearance--was criticized. No one was safe in that class.

Not gonna lie: sometimes it stung.
Most of the time the critique was warranted.
Occasionally it wasn't.

Regardless, the critique was necessary in order for each of us to succeed, both as performers and as professionals. It was so much better to receive that critique in a controlled environment where we could make necessary changes rather than see it blasted in the newspaper's review of our performance in a show.

The Continuation of Criticism
For centuries, the art of peer review has been a vital foundation upon which success is built. It doesn't matter what industry you are in; criticism is required. It's part of what you sign up for when you put yourself out there with a product or talent.

When you feel deeply about something and put yourself out there with that deep emotion, you have to be prepared for a deeply felt response.

No one is immune. Here's a great example:

"I haven't any right to criticize books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read 'Pride and Prejudice', I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone."
That's Mark Twain weighing in on Jane Austen. [Read more at Authors dissing Authors] (While my personal opinion of Austen is that she liberally stole themes, characters, plots, and style from Francis Burney, Austen is heralded worldwide as an author of extraordinary literature.)

Jane Austen--who wrote such wildly endeared characters as Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, characters and stories around whom the Arts now revolve--received crushing reviews, both upon publication and posthumously.

Let's Put It in Perspective
On rare occasion I receive requests from authors regarding the reviews their book(s) have received. Most authors get it; they understand the review process and that every reader is entitled to his/her own opinion.

But in that occasional request, the author demands that I make the review disappear.

Even if I could, I would not do that.* It's not fair to the author, the book, or the readers.

It endangers our rights of free speech.
It disrupts the entire system of peer evaluation and reader approval.
It is no one's business but the reviewer.

What I wish I could tell to every writer (not just authors, but writers of all genres and platforms) is this: a review is simply an opinion.

We are allowed to--encouraged to, in most cases--express opinions on politics, news, celebrities, education, products, etc. Usually the literary field is the champion of that freedom of expression.

How hypocritical for us, as writers, to then retract that allowance simply because our feelings were hurt.

So, dear writer--whether you are a high schooler writing a poem, a polished professional submitting articles or stories for publication in periodicals, or an established author--don't become so wrapped up in your world of words that you forget that other people's opinions matter too.

If something written or said in a review stings, you might want to consider the validity of the claim. Perhaps there is truth somewhere in that review, truth that you are reluctant to accept.

As author Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, one of my favorite workshop leaders ever, once said (and this is a very loose paraphrase!): "Your writing is your baby. You invest time, effort, and labor into it's creation and delivery. You are proud to show it off, because it is an extension of you. But when you show it off, someone might say, 'My, your baby has a big head.' You can get mad and offended, but what good will it do? Your baby probably does have a big head, and until you recognize and accept that, you can't fix the issue. So then your baby will always have a big head and no one will take it seriously!"

Again, the above is a very loose paraphrase from one of the first workshops I had with Jeffers, but it's stuck with me over the years because of the truth of her statement.

The Secret
Not only will mastering The Secret (which follows below in italics) enhance your career as a writer, but it can also change your life.

When criticism rears its ugly head, take an emotional step back. 

Using reason, consider the main points of the criticism. 
Are they worthy of consideration? 

Look at the issue from someone else's perspective. 
Is there need for change? 

Sometimes this requires seeking the advice of someone you respect. 
Does the change support your long-term objectives? 

Once you've ascertained the validity of the critique and evaluated the need for change, follow through with the necessary actions to implement the changes, working toward a better final product.

But above all, don't let criticism--constructive or not--keep you from writing. If Jane Austen had let the criticism still her pen, where would we be today?


Question: Think back to when you were stung by someone's critique. Was the critique warranted? Did a change support your long-term goal? How did you handle the critique, and how did you implement the change?

*There are exceptions to this case, specifically when a review criticizes something unrelated to the writing, such as a diatribe against an author, a retailer, etc.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Producer Weighs In

Recently, one of our authors contacted a Christian show producer about featuring his devotional on their nationally syndicated show. If I were to tell you the show, 99.9% of you all would know what is is.

Even though we advised a different approach (and offered to facilitate that approach), he was determined to land an interview on the show purely about his devotional.

Here's the blunt response from the producer. I've taken out the incriminating details to protect privacy:

From Producer to Author

Thanks for your response.  But we will not booking you for a live interview to discuss your devotional on our show.  Our producers want a guest to share his or her personal story of a life transformed by Jesus. 
With the TV remote, we have 5 seconds at most as folks click thru the hundreds of channels they can watch, to grab someone’s attention and keep them tuned to our show.  

Our producers’ research shows that we build and keep our audience when the audience can relate to a personal story that shows how Jesus changed a life/solved a problem, etc.  Talking about your devotional will not accomplish this.


My Thoughts

While this was from a producer of a Christian show, the principle is the same. The way people become guests on tv shows is not because of the product they are marketing, but rather because of something personal that will resonate with the shows' target audiences--something that will catch their attention and sustain it. The product marketing is an addition to the true reason the show producers want you on the show.


Question: Name five things that catch your attention when you are flipping through channels. What platform are they (movies, talk shows, reality shows, commercial, public service message, etc.)? What about you, your life, or your experiences can you relate to those snippets that caught your attention?

Monday, April 19, 2010

An Antiquated Arena

Good afternoon, all. Sorry for the recent hiatus. Things have been so busy I haven't had a chance to read any blog posts, much less write one!

Where to start!?!

This morning I had a great mini-meeting with some of our editors to discuss the marketing process and what expectations our company has for authors.

During lunch I got caught up on my industry reading, where I read this article at PW. It fits in perfectly with my thoughts today: The No-Advance Tradeoff

Since 2005, Tate Publishing has been doing the very thing Cooper and Kampmann advocate: changing what happens at the onset of the book deal in favor of the author keeping more rights, exercising more creative control, and pocketing higher royalties.

So Beaufort signed some mid-list celebrities... whoop tee doo. To be honest, some of that goes with the New York territory.

A line that really jumped out to me was this: "Cooper said the idea is that a book 'doesn't have to be a home run every time. The stakes are to do the best job possible.'"

The Best Job Possible
How do we attain that "best job possible" status? With my years in the industry, it's dependent upon one thing:

Partnership.

The business model we are discussing---where an author retains more rights, creative control, and higher royalties---has a trade off. It means the author must be involved as well!

The days of unknowns penning books and raking in the dough while sequestering themselves in their gothic mansions are long over.

Look at Stephanie Meyer. She's involved with her book, the marketing, and her readership.

Let me reiterate:
if an author chooses to accept a contract with a publishing house similar to these we are discussing, the author HAS to understand and accept his/her responsibilities, both literary and promotional.

Some Sobering Statistics

Bowker stats indicate that:
288,355 titles were released by traditional publishers in 2009
764,448 titles were released by POD/self publishers in 2009

That means over 1 million new titles hit the market in 2009.

For the moment, though, let's not consider those 700,000+ books by self-publishers/POD publishers (you can get a breakdown of these publishers from John Kremer http://www.bookmarket.com/; details are listed in this week's book marketing tip).

Let's look at the retail competition my authors face: the 288,355 titles published by comparable houses to Tate.

Imagine stacking 288,355 books against a wall. Then imagine how long that stack would go.

Keep in mind that each of those 288,355 new titles has an author with dreams and some sort of marketing campaign.

Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention: your average store only has room for 20,000 books, and many times they need to keep duplicate copies of the same title.

Where are you going with this, Amanda? We are sick of hearing all the bad news!

My dear readers, this is GREAT news! Less than 300,000 other titles are competing for bookstore buyer attention. The odds are still tough, but they seem less overwhelming now. Of course, just showing the book won't catch their attention, but showing a demand for the book will!

The way to overcome those odds should be ingrained in your subconscious by now: The RRCS Equation.

Research, Relationships, Connections and Sales are all hand-in-hand.

The RRCS Equation will give you the leg up against those other 300,000 titles competing for bookstore buyer attention, because you'll build a readership, which then leads to demand, which then leads to your book bumping another book off it's shelf.

The RRCS Equation will also give you a leg up against the 1 million+ titles competing for reader attention.

With less than 40% of book sales coming from the bookstore market, the majority of readers and spenders are finding titles and authors they like outside of the traditionally accepted--and completely antiquated--"bookstore arena."

Okay, that's it...my rant for the day is over, and my soapbox is being put away.

For my authors, here is your homework assignment for today:

What ONE title would you recommend readers read before reading your book?
What ONE title would you recommend readers read after reading your book?

Your answers may surprise you...

Friday, April 9, 2010

The RRCS Equation: Research, Relationships, Connections and Sales

Consumers buy products because they perceive a need for the product in their lives.

Successful manufacturers/retailers are continually looking for new ways to answer this question:

How can we create a perceived need in consumers’ lives for this product?

An Example
Have you ever looked at a box of baking soda? (If not, run to the kitchen and get it real quick)

The box indicates multiple other uses for baking soda, and you can even go online to see a million more ways to use this product.

I use baking soda for baking and laundry daily. So it’s a common place item for our home.

But as I looked over the different tips, I found one I didn’t know about: you can use it as a dry bath for dogs. Instead of waiting for the next bath, I’m going to try the dry bath method on my two 90-lb boys. Given their size, I’ll probably need to pick up an extra box on my way home.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED HERE?

Arm & Hammer created a new perceived need in my life. Up until today, I thought the dog smell was unavoidable, since you aren't supposed to bathe pets daily. Now I see it as a nuisance, something that can be eliminated. And even though I have multiple boxes of Arm & Hammer baking soda at home, I’m now stopping to buy a new one.

It’s All Part of the Equation

So how do we create this perceived need in prospective readers?

My authors should know this phrase by heart, I say it so much:

People buy books for one of two reasons. They either feel a connection with
1) the author
OR
2) the book

Connection is the Siamese twin to Perceived Need. You can’t have one without the other.

These connections are not limited. Perhaps the reader went to grade school with the author; or perhaps the author has revealed a physical limitation with which the reader relates. This initiates a perceived need to hear what the author has to say.

Perhaps the reader identifies with the book's theme, or perhaps the reader sees the price and recognizes that it falls within his/her budget. This initiates a perceived need to learn from the book.

REGARDLESS, the most important thing an author can do is ESTABLISH CONNECTIONS. 

How do you establish connections? Through relationships.
How do you build relationships? I'm so glad you asked.
You first have to research in order to build relationships.

This is where my years of calculus come in handy. Let me introduce you to the RRCS Equation:
(Research + Relationships) x Connections = Perceived Need = Sales 

Research 

My people are researchers:

My grandfather, a CPA, was heavy in genealogy and traced our family back to the signing of the Magna Carta.

My mother, a teacher, has a well-stocked personal library and is the research queen.

So I have naturally grown up with a life approach that is rooted in research. Every decision I make is fully researched. (Another reason why I can't live without my iPhone)

Given this natural habit of mine, I am surprised when others aren't sure where to start with research.
So for anyone out there learning how to conduct research with the objective of building relationships and establishing connections, here is my Research Checklist with examples.

1) Determine WHO you are looking for. This is your NICHE audience. You can have a million niche audiences; however, you have to look for connections individually.

Example: This morning I am working on a non-fiction title dealing with grief. Possible niches are loved ones of terminal patients, senior citizens, those who have lost loved ones, people looking for info on planning a funeral, funeral homes and clients, people grappling with what to do after the funeral, etc.
The niche I’ve chosen to research today is FUNERAL HOMES & CLIENTS.

2) Where does your NICHE go for information?  I googled FUNERAL resource and found Funerals Today Magazine. On this site I found a listing of the organizations the editor-in-chief is involved with. So then I started googling those organizations. Thirty minutes later, I had pulled a list of contacts to make from the below sites, each of them a place where my NICHE would go to for information and resources:









3) The next step is to FAMILIARIZE yourself with the contacts. I started contacting the different online resources about adding a title to their bookstores/resource lists. If any of these were blogs, I would instruct the author to start following the blog, reading through them and making comments over the course of a few weeks on the posts. ALSO, I would send the author to these sites to look at freelance options (that is, submitting articles on grief-related subjects in line with whatever topics/themes they are currently discussing). 

Relationships

Now that you've done the research, you need to build the relationships.

Stay consistent with contact until you've built a RELATIONSHIP. This might mean that you ask a blogger to write a guest post on your blog, or that you have a few articles published in the magazine, or that they review your book for their resource list. Voila---you've built a relationship within this niche audience. Since you have their trust AND their attention, you can now close the deal.

Connections
 
So, you've found the niche, completed the research and initiated relationships. How do you build and maintain your relationship with your niche, establishing CONNECTIONS?

Initiate DIALOGUE about the subject matter, which eventually leads to your book. This is when you direct your niche to your blog, webpage, bookstore link, etc. Ask for feedback on your book. Once one of these niche readers has read the book, as where they wish they could have found the book. That then can open you up to a NEW CONNECTION.

My father, a former politician, taught my brother and me the following when it comes to trying to get a commitment out of someone else: "It's not about what you've done for me....it's about what you've done for me lately."

I use that principle daily. We all should. An author can't make one comment on a post and three months later expect the blogger to do him/her a favor.

The world just doesn't work that way.

We have to work hard to maintain relationships and further connections, both in our personal lives and in our professional lives. We have to fill up our "favor bank" before we can expect to withdraw a favor. Otherwise, we burn that bridge, and we burn it fast.

 For authors, this means with their readers and prospective readers as well.

This is the number one reason why I suggest that all my authors have a blog. It offers an avenue for continued contact. It demands that you research and connect with people in order to keep a relationship going, as well as allows you to pursue new connections.

If you DON'T work at maintaining and building these relationships, then that is your fault. No one else can do it for you. Again, this is a principle we all should apply to our personal lives just as well as to every relationship we have in our professional lives.

The Last Part of the Equation: Sales

Back to my rule of thumb:

Readers buy books because of either a connection with the author or with the book. These connections create perceived needs, which leads to sales.

Research uncovers the door. Relationships unlock the door. Connections open the door. Perceived Needs get the reader through the door. Once the reader is on the other side, you’ve sold a book.

Some prospective readers will choose to walk through and purchase the book. Some won't, but you can't take that personally. Not everyone is interested in your message. That's okay...it's part of the business. 

But those who are interested in the message, if they enjoy your book and find it meets their needs (which it will if you follow the RRCS Equation), will tell other people about the door and shepherd them through it too!
So, instead of a question today, I'm assigning a little homework exercise!

HOMEWORK: You are going to perform RRCS on a fake title.

Title: "The Little Boy who Sat on the Moon"

Genre: Children's book

Synopsis: A little boy escapes the fighting between his parents, and eventual divorce, by imagining that he's sitting on the moon. His special stuffed bear, an astronaut in disguise, is what helps him to come back to earth and adjust to his new life with divorced parents.

Themes: imagination, family strife, dealing with conflict, divorce, separation, etc.

Author bio: Author Jane E. Doe is a former kindergarten teacher who currently sits on the board for an organization that provides a safe haven for therapy & police interrogation in a safe and fun environment for children who have observed crimes (such as someone killing someone), most of whom are also being separated from their parents.

Endorsements: Book has endorsements from psychiatrists employed by the organization, an assistant district attorney who handles child abuse situations, and the state superintendent of schools.

Apply the RRCS Equation:
1) R: Research:  Outline the niche audiences this book could appeal to. Pick one to pursue for this example. Find the avenues to pursue that will put the book in front of that niche.

2) R: Relationship: What can the author do with those avenues to form relationships?

3) C: Connections: How should the author use the relationships to form connections with the book?

4) S: Sales: What perceived needs can you initiate? How does the author produce sales?

If you have questions and want to walk through this for this hypothetical case (or for your title), give me a call or shoot me an email!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

No Post Today!

I'm taking a break from posting today and instead spending my time playing with GIST (http://www.gist.com/). I'll let you know how it goes...

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Fought the Vampires, and the Vampires Won

It's a beautiful Monday, over 70 degrees when I got in my car to head to work today.

A little overcast, but still brighter than it was a few weeks ago.

All I could see as I drove, though, was the agony of Bella, Edward and Jacob.

Yes, dear reader. I'm ashamed to admit that I have at last become a TWILIGHT junkie.

I must preface my following statements by letting you know that for personal reasons, I have been very anti-TWILIGHT from the beginning.

It's not that I disapprove of vampires--I find the myths and legends of vampires quite intriguing. (A fantastically written vampire novel is THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova.)

I disapproved of the writing, the sensationalism, the popularity.... I was taking a stand against "brain candy" (as I like to call it) in favor of literature.

It didn't help any that I was reading THE HISTORIAN right when TWILIGHT surfaced.

One was written to be a YA novel, the other is a strong literary engagement.

So this takes us back to the newest development in my life:

I'm a TWILIGHT junkie.

It started innocently. I was crafting late one night last weekend when I realized that nothing on TV or any movie channels seemed appealing. TWILIGHT was available on On Demand, and so I simply turned it on to keep me company.

The end saw me in tears, my craft long forgotten, curled up on the couch. I immediately found the sequel on On Demand and watched it.

The next week I could NOT get the characters and the story out of my mind.

Now for phase 2 of my insane new obsession:

We left Friday morning to spend Easter with family out of town. Later that day while shopping with my mother-in-law, I realized my cell phone was not on me. We searched purses, luggage, car, etc. Still no phone.

Anyone who knows me knows that my phone is by my side at ALL times. [Come to find out, I had left it in our other car after my early morning drop-off of the puppies at daycare.]

Being left alone without my phone left me with nothing to do. Stranded (for mental entertainment, you could say), I picked up the first book late Friday night to read a few chapters.

I finished it on Saturday, fully engrossed and in love with the characters.

Sunday, after Easter service at church, I picked up the next book and devoured it.

Today, I'm fighting off the images of the characters as I debate whether to start the next book or wait a while.

So why on earth am I admitting this to you?

I wanted to remind you of the power of a good story.

Would I rank the books or writing as "good"? No. Did I find grammar mistakes? Yes. Are there major flaws, both in character development as well as plot development? Yes. Are the themes muddled? Yes.

But when you boil it down, the story is captivating.

My Shirt Says "Team Edwacob"

Like Edward, those in the book industry can be so caught up in what is realistic, factual, that we forget the small things called hope and optimism, things Jacob stood for.

It is so easy to become cynical these days.

Why do you think I named the blog "Recovering Editor...Back on the Wagon"? It is in recognition that i am re-engaging my personal appreciate for all literature, blocking out the hopeless cynicism that can be overwhelming.

SO, take heart, dear writer. A book doesn't have to be wildly successful to be meaningful. You might worry and fret over things you wish you could change about what you had written, but don't be.

Your book is exactly what it is supposed to be: a representation of you and the message you have to share.

I guarantee you that if you can connect your book with it's right audience--with the readers who will find their lives changed--you'll find the success your book deserves.

That's how it happened for Stephanie Meyer. And now look at me...a self-professed book snob can't put down a series written for young adults. :)

Question: What was the last book that so thoroughly engrossed you, you lost track of yourself in it? How did you find that book?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Sun is Finally Shining, and Other Musings from an Oklahoman ready for Summer

Part of publishing is networking. I recall one "UGLY BETTY" episode where Betty is part of an elite group of young professionals being mentored by professionals in the magazine publishing business.

One whole episode (really, the only episode I've ever seen) was devoted to the group's study on networking, and how VITAL it is to one's success in any branch of the publishing industry.

It's sooooo true....it's not what you know, but who you know.

In line with that theme, I wanted to show my authors some things about the industry they might not be aware of, simply because they are new to the industry and probably aren't well-connected.

We know what we are doing!
I'm constantly amazed by first time authors who think they know more about marketing a book than I do, simply because they read an article online, or attended a two-hour class on how to make their book a bestseller (usually with a nice price tag too...yes, that's sarcasm).

The strategies we adopt for marketing are cutting edge. What seems like it would work (like sending a book to Oprah with a great pitch letter) really doesn't work. Those are amateur efforts that everyone makes. It's not so simple as sending a really great query or being placed on a prominent bookshelf.


What does work is garnering the attention of local media, building a demand, and sharpening your skills on air.

Let an Expert Weigh In
Here's an eye-opening statement from Marsha Friedman, CEO of EMSI Incorporated:  "When you are assigned a marketing rep or hire a publicist, recognize that part of what you are paying for is their expertise.  Most companies (or authors) would never quibble with their accounting firm, and they'd never argue legal opinions with their attorneys, so why do they find it so easy to dispute the expertise of their PR firm (marketing rep)? It's just counterproductive and it ends up wasting valuable time and money."

Marsha's firm is a PR consultant for Top Six publishers (such as HarperCollins and Simon Schuster), Tate Publishing, and various bestselling authors (a partial client list is available at her site). I share that to indicate that a) she knows what she's doing, and b) Tate knows what it's doing.

Everyone is out to make a buck! 
Believe me---I hate this one! I'm cynical enough to expect it, but I still dislike that we live in this culture.

We hear from authors daily who have been taken advantage of by marketing firms, publishers, etc. Some of these authors come to us as a last resort and are astonished at what we offer.

Some of our authors---usually those with unrealistic expectations from the get go---might pursue other options and ALWAYS come back to Tate thankful for what we did/have done/are doing for them.

These authors learned the hard way that Tate really offers one of the most solid marketing plans available to authors in this industry.

It's not just authors who tell us this. Other PR firms, bookstores, distributors, best-selling authors, book festivals, etc. like to commend what we do. We really offer the whole enchilada.

I share this all of this for one reason: to prove that people will promise the world to get your money. They will hype up their services and distort reality. Industry professionals are blown away by how Tate's plan goes above and beyond industry standards for authors. (don't just take my word for it....check out what a bestselling author has to say: NYT Bestseller Weighs In)

So beware of anyone who claims they can make you a bestseller. They are appealing to your ego, playing with your emotions in order to get your business.

Popular
I love Oklahoma native Kristen Chenowith and adore her version of "Popular" (from "WICKED"). Believe it or not, there is truth in this word.
Did you ever run for class office in high school? 

I did. 

I was a drama nerd, the type who liked to stay after school conjugating sentences on the chalkboard as my English teacher graded papers. I was on newspaper staff and wrote a weekly column that I'm convinced no one read. 

I ran every year for an office, and not once was I elected. In retrospect, I'm glad I wasn't weighed down with those responsibilities.

But the fact never changed: it was all a popularity contest.

On "MODERN FAMILY" (one of my new favorite shoes), one character summed it up by saying: "In high school, everyone spends their time trying to fit in. But once they are in the real world, they all try to stand out." 

What is popular one day might not be popular the next day. The market is constantly shifting, and the only ones who can influence the future of the market are the ones in control of the market.

But even they fail sometimes.

The truth is, no one can control what book becomes a bestseller. That is entirely up to the market: to readers. Both "THE SHACK" and "TWILIGHT" weren't predicted to be bestsellers...they were turned down numerously for publication.

Now see where they are. "THE SHACK" has been a bestseller for both religious and secular audiences, and "TWILIGHT" has lit the world on fire with a vampire frenzy. 

"You're Gonna be Popular"
Today, I'm your Galinda and you are my Elphaba (Wicked, the Musical). I'm going to help you set your sights on the road to popularity. 

Read this excerpt from the lyrics:
Celebrated heads of state,
Or specially great communicators!
Did they have brains or knowledge?
Don't make me laugh!

They were POPULAR!
Please!
It's all about popular.
It's not about aptitude,
It's the way you're viewed,
So it's very shrewd to be,
Very very popular

As Galinda so aptly points out, popularity comes through one thing: connections.

My authors often hear me say that one of two things sell a book: either a connection with the book or a connection with the author.

Most initial sales begin with author connections. As those spread, people start to connect with the book. This is what puts a high royalty check in an author's bank account.

The Connection Price Tag
You can't buy connections. You can only find them through blood, sweat and tears. Okay, that's over-exaggerating, but you really do have to work toward building relationships with readers, other authors, media contacts, and leaders within your niche.

Ask anyone who is popular and they will tell you: it's hard work being popular! 

So be sure that you recognize when someone is being straight with you. Anyone who promises you an easy way to success is trying to take advantage of you. We believe this in the financial realm---we all know that the email from a Nigerian prince is bogus, and those paid programming advertisements for business opportunities promising thousands and thousands of dollars in income is just a scam. 

So why don't writers believe this in the publishing realm?

The Truth will Never Deceive You
That's one thing about Tate Publishing that I love. From the moment you see our website to the first royalty you receive, our "pitch"stays the same.

We don't promise the moon. We don't promise the unpromisable, such as bookstore shelf space, huge royalties, national book tours, etc.

Even our website outlines what we promise, just as our contracts, production guides, and marketing guides do.

We do promise: 
a) to provide for an unknown author's book the opportunity to enter the dialogue of literature and, hopefully, develop a readership.
b) to provide top-of-the-line editing (as a book award judge, let me assure you....our editing team is one of the best out there!), design, and layout--each step carefully executed in pursuit of attracting and maintaining a reader's focus.
c) to implement a cutting edge marketing strategy for our books, a strategy that is further personalized to each book's unique market, a strategy applauded by the professionals in the industry.
d) to provide assistance in developing a niche readership.
e) to never EVER stop promoting our books, unless an author indicates the desire to pull back on marketing.
f) to provide to every author a personal connection, someone to work with hand-in-hand for the life of the book.
g) that each and every staff member will give each and every author he/she works with 110%. 

Spend any time with Taters (that's what we call ourselves) and you'll see that making authors' dreams come true is a passion for us. I honestly get up every morning excited to serve and market my authors. 

[Maybe this is a reason why Tate Publishing has repeatedly been nominated to the best places to work in Oklahoma]

Well, enough of my schpeal for today. I was out sick yesterday and have a lot to catch up on. But I wanted to be sure and share my heart with you all today before I got lost in "responding to media queries" land!

Question: If you have a product to sell (book, craft, WHATEVER), how do you plan to share your product with the world? Are your expectations realistic? What connections are you pursuing?