January 5, 2009
It's beginning to look like hard times have hit the economy, which isn't new to us in the writing and book business. It's been hard times here for a spell, and we're all struggling to make it in today's publishing upheaval.
I have a few suggestions. Keep searching for those publishers who aren't afraid to put books out there. There's some good news in that small publishers, who don't give advances, are still signing contracts with writers. In return for us writing them a good book, they will work with us, print an attractive book, distribute, help with promotion where they can, and hand us the reins. It's up to the writer to market that book. I'm grateful to all those small publishers who are willing to take a chance with my work.
It's easier today than when I was first published in the early 90s because of the Internet. There we can promote our work with the possibility of millions of viewers to our social networking sites and websites. It's certainly more than we could do back then.
As I begin work on my two contracted books which can be written at the same time, I'm working on promotional ideas for both. Networking of course, is essential, not only on the Web but at conferences and workshops.
Blog book tours are a great idea. Start your list of bloggers who might host your tour while writing your book. Obtain Google alerts for the subject matter that your books cover and check out blogs on those subjects. Follow those you find suitable and make comments so that when you are trying to line up your hosts, they'll be familiar with you and what you're doing. Share your feelings about their work, too. It's not all about you. Offer to host a tour.
Spend one day a week promoting, writing blogs, adding personal information to social networks like Facebook. Build a website early on and make sure and use tags that will get you noticed by search engines.
Get in touch with your local libraries when you have a release date on your book, or even before. Let them know what you're writing. Invest in post cards that can be mailed or handed out. They make more sense (as in dollars and cents) than bookmarks because they serve more than one purpose. Leave them blank on the back so you can add stickers promoting whatever you might want to at any given time.
When the time comes, mail them to librarians either regionally or nationwide, depending on the subject matter of your book. Mail them to book stores and gift shops and tourist shops in the proper area telling them how to order your book. Mail them to people on your mailing list, which you should begin to build when you begin writing. If people are interviewed and mentioned in your book, give them a call and tell them when the book will be out.
There are probably loads of other things writers can do, so check around online and at writer's blogs to learn more, and keep writing, researching and promoting.
November 24, 2008
Years ago, while writing a weekly historical column for local newspapers, I began to run across more and more stories about communities that no longer exist in these Boston Mountains of the Ozarks. I had this idea for a book because the stories and the people were so intriguing. The way settlers lived when they first emigrated into these rugged Ozarks was a real eye opener for me, though I was born here.
I began to keep notes but as time passed discovered that no publisher was interested. At least that was the case then. Networking at conferences told me one thing. The subject matter was too regional. Still, every chance I got I pitched the book. Then this year at Women Writing the West Conference, the editor and publisher of Old American Publishing showed an interest. It didn't hurt that my previous book was a finalist in the WILLA awards either. He seemed only mildly interested, so as we packed up to come home, I didn't figure I'd hear from him. I sent him the materials he requested and went on about this business of writing.
A week later his acquisitions editor emailed me saying that he was really interested in offering me a contract for the book. After we exchanged ideas on promotion, that's exactly what I received. A contract.
So now, all those stories I've saved have found a home at last. The book is going well. Will have to update some of the stories, travel around rechecking the communities to verify if buildings are still standing or not and the routes to get there.
But this just proves that you shouldn't ever give up when you're sure of your project. Somewhere, sometime, if you network long enough, someone will want to publish your baby.
So now my book, which has no set title yet, will see the light of day after all,
That wandering along the back roads and trails of the Ozarks will have paid off once again.