Thursday, May 28, 2009

Websites, Blogs, and . . .My Husband

When I think of my favorite writing resources, I think of it two different ways. First are the resources that help me actually get the book written, finished and readable, and second are the resources that helped/help me learn about and understand the business of publishing.

When it comes to the first set of resources, my most valuable resources are my early readers. My first reader is always my husband, which is interesting because he’s not generally a reader at all, and I could probably count all the books he’s read (aside from mine) in the last five years on one hand. But in some ways this makes him the best resource. He’s not looking for trends or comparing me to other books. And he’s unflinchingly honest. He’ll freely point out any dialogue that doesn’t sound real or any characters that don’t ring true, and he’s looking at it with a totally different eye than I ever would. I should also mention here that my husband is a great writing resource because he gives me the time to write by watching the kids, and constantly reminding me that it is more important for me to write than clean the house/cook dinner/sleep/grade papers/or a variety of other things that I probably should be doing instead.

My second reader is my mom. She’s read more books than anyone else I’ve known. Ever. And she reads fast. She’ll read a draft of mine in a few hours, then call me to tell me which parts she likes and which ones she doesn’t, though, she generally has no idea why. Which is okay, because then I take a new look at the parts of the book she doesn’t like. I also know she’s read so much that she can compare it to other things out in the world, and she’ll tell me honestly whether or not she thinks my book is readable by other people.

But as we writers know, getting the book written is only half (or maybe something like 1/8) of the battle. And like Maureen, I turn to the Internet for all my publishing business resources. My favorite place when querying agents, as I’ve mentioned here before, was agentquery.com. I also found a lot of useful information on Miss Snark and on agent Kristin Nelson’s blog. I still read Kristin’s blog just because I think she always has something fresh and interesting to say about the publishing business.

Publisher’s Marketplace is my favorite place to find out about deals/agents/editors. It’s a great tool to see what’s selling, who’s selling what, and who’s buying what. Publisher’s Weekly is another great (and free) resource for reading reviews, publishing news, and deals. I’m just going to stop myself here for a second to add in that the sale of my adult novel made it into Publisher’s Weekly yesterday – something I was so, so excited about! You can click here to read it.

I also think book reviewer’s blogs are a great resource because you can get a sense of what people are reading and enjoying and what’s getting buzz in the publishing industry. The Story Siren’s blog and Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations are two of my favorites. Both are great, always informative, and honest.

I probably could go on and on. In fact one of my new favorite procrastinating tools since becoming a published author are reading blogs, checking publishing sites, and checking out other author’s websites. But it’s not really procrastinating if it’s writing related, right?!

PS. Another great resource for all things YA, YA Fresh, is doing a giveaway for three copies of THE SEPTEMBER SISTERS this week! Click here to enter.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Internet Resources Galore!

When I first started down this writing journey, I explored nearly none of the vast writing resources available. I was simply trying to prove to myself that I could write 80,000 words that all related to each other and formed some sort of plot. It wasn't until I finished my book, took a step back, and realized that I need some HELP, big time.

I had no idea how to begin revising, no clue how to find an agent and certainly in-the-dark about the publishing process. Thank goodness for the interwebz.

One of the first few websites I stumbled upon, back in 2005, was Absolute Write. And, four years later, I still read the message boards daily. It's an amazing resource for all writers--unpublished, pre-published or published. There's everything from query critiques to a place to rant and scream about agent form rejections.

Probably around the same time, I discovered Miss Snark. She stopped writing on the blog awhile back, but has kept it active. A wonderful, hilarious and full of invaluable advice, this blog taught me what a query letter should be, reminded me that those opening pages better be more than just backstory and challenged me with a question from an agent's perspective, "Why should I care what happens to your characters?" Or, "So what?"

In addition to those websites, I also love to visit other author's blogs, if even just to nod my head at all of the freakouts that mirror my own, or laugh when they want to kill off all their characters in revision. (Side note--I am just about at that point in revisions to my YA book. I really just want to delete everything after page 15 and have aliens or zombies show up and eat everyone. The End.)

My final, and probably best, resource is published books. The kind other people have written. I'm a person who learns best by example, so when I read a book and say, "Wow! Didn't see that coming!" or the like, I try to distill the "why" and the "how." Another reason why I love this resource? I can go into Borders, walk out with my poor pocketbook much, much lighter and call it "research."

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Novel Girls Welcome ERIN GALLOWAY!

We have a special guest post today! A graduate of the master of publishing program at Pace University in Manhattan, Erin Galloway is the Manager of Marketing for Dorchester Publishing. Erin has the pleasure of working with many talented authors, ranging from debut authors to veteran New York Times best-sellers. A romance reader for over a decade, Erin now counts herself lucky to work with her favorte books and numerous wonderful authors.

Erin was kind enough to share some amazing promo info with The Novel Girls. We asked her questions, and she gave us some terrific answers!:

TNG: What's the most effective promotion for a debut author? Giveaways, ads, etc.?

EG: I believe there are certain things that tend to have mass appeal, such as giveaways--whether gift certificates or books--and promo materials like bookmarks and chapter booklets, but the truth is that the same thing doesn't work for everyone. What is incredibly successful for one person may have absolutely no effect on another. Really try to keep your audience in mind, think about how to reach them and what they may appreciate.

Do you want to hit the very web savvy crows and have them talking about your book virally? Offer them something they can use like exclusive content or excerpts. Introduce yourself to as many reviewers and bloggers as possible and take advantage of any opportunities you are offered. Importantly, make sure to give a personal touch to whatever you are doing--thank bloggers with a personal note or email for any promo they have given you, always reply when readers write to you, meet as many people individually as you can at conferences and get the email addresses of anyone who attends your book signings and send them a thank you note for attending.

Let the reader, bookseller and/or librarian know you appreciate them. It goes a long way toward remembering you and your books in the future.

TNG: Is the promotion a debut author should do different in any way from a more established author?

EG: Yes, a debut author is just at the beginning of building his/her career, so it's important to immediately begin branding yourself and to work toward establishing an audience of readers. You can start smaller and build bigger as you go.

TNG: What should a new author's web site have on it?

EG: The vital things that a new author's web site should have are: author bio, photo, contact information, information on your newest book(s) and an excerpt chapter or two. Include any other fun things you can think of--if your book has a lot of food in it, have some recipes on your site. If your book contains something crafty like scrapbooks, have scrapbook tips on your site. It could even be in jest. Perhaps your heroine is a klutz or always getting into trouble. Include a "Top 10 Places to Avoid if You Are a Klutz."

TNG: How much should a new author focus on libraries in promotion efforts?

EG: It's always good to have a librarian in your corner, especially because some people are more likely to try a new author from the library before choosing to puchase. You may want to start locally within your area or state, particularly if the book has regional appeal. Once you've begun to build your audience you can think about expanding.

TNG: How important are pre-order sales?

EG: It depends on the kind of preorder sales you're talking about. Preorder sales on Amazon.com are no more and no less important than a sale after the on-sale date. In this case, a sale is a sale.

When you're talking about preorder sales at a bookstore, there is a potential for real impact because if the store is only planning on ordering 10 copies of a given book and they receive 20 preorder sales for that book, the amount of books they'll be ordering for the store has already more than doubled, as they'll want 20 to cover their preorders as well as additional books to have on hand. With that said, you don't need to kill yourself encouraging readers to preorder your book. Not all readers want to preorder, and that's okay. Just sending out an email to your readers you have on your email list the day the book is available saing "you can now purchase your own copy of (name of your book)" goes a long way in reminding the reader how much they enjoy your work and encouraging them to purchase.

Thank you to The Novel Girls so much for having me on the blog. I wish you and all of the authors out there the best with your promotional efforts!

Thanks, Erin!