Tags: elevator pitch, how to get an agent, how to pitch your book, how to write a good query letter
“What is your story about?” It’s a simple question that rarely has a simple answer. If you’re like most writers, you have a tendency to go on and on, taking tangents, and often making the storyline seem convoluted and confusing. The listener’s eyes glaze over before you pause for a breath, and by the end of the explanation, the listener is looking around for a way to escape and you feel like you didn’t explain your story well enough to convey how fabulous it really is. That can be frustrating and embarrassing.
The idea of pitching the story to agents may seem even more overwhelming, but once you’ve crafted a succinct and compelling pitch, and memorized it so you can deliver it smoothly, you’ll be able to pitch your story to an agent (or anyone else) in less than 30 seconds.
And when I say less than 30 seconds, I mean LESS THAN 30 SECONDS. You should have your pitch so finely tuned you can deliver it in an elevator between floors if you have to.
You may not think that’s nearly enough time, but just remember: The more you talk, the more you talk the agent out of wanting to read your manuscript. Your manuscript will stand on its own merit; don’t sabotage your story before the agent has the opportunity to turn the first page.
Your pitch is something you need to spend some time crafting and memorizing, so you don’t freeze up when an agent says, ”Okay, tell me what your story is about.”
4 Components of a Good Pitch:
Your pitch capsule should be brief, comprehensive, engaging, and clear.
1. Brief: Craft your pitch with as few words as possible.
2. Comprehensive: Cover the main points of your story.
3. Engaging: Choose to showcase your most interesting story elements.
4. Clear: Keep your sentence structure simple and word choices easy to understand and easy to articulate (so you don’t trip over your words when you pitch).
In-person Pitch Format:
• Start with the title and genre first.
That information immediately conveys to the agent where your story fits into the marketplace and allows her to focus on listening to your storyline instead of trying to guess what genre your story fits into.
• Pitch capsule (less than 50 words is ideal)
Incorporate the character’s desire and main conflict or obstacle. The conflict doesn’t have to be stated directly; it can be implied by the difficulty in the character’s circumstances you’ve highlighted. Your pitch should be no more than 1-3 sentences.
• Comparison works.
In addition to your pitch, you can also reference a similar author or books with a similar theme, tone, or style, to help the agent understand the way you’ve written your story.
Make sure your comparison is an accurate choice and don’t be boastful. Stay away from judgment language:
“My story is side-splittingly funny, entertaining, and riveting. It’s just as brilliant as the books by Author X.”
The agent may not think it is, and no amount of telling her you think it is will make it so.
Stick to simple statements that tell why you think your manuscript is similar in tone/style to a particular author or why it would appeal to a particular audience.
Practice Practice Practice
Once you’ve honed your pitch, practice it in the shower, in front of a mirror, driving in the car. Recite it to your friends, family, and moderately attentive pets. Become comfortable with your pitch, so the next time someone asks, “What is your story about?”—you have the perfect answer.
Dear Readers: If you need help crafting your pitch, creating a compelling query letter, and finding an agent who will fall in love with your story, you are welcome to join my 4-week workshop: How to Get the Right Agent for Your Manuscript. You can find out more about the class on my Workshops page. Contact me directly annette [at] annettefix [dot] com to sign up, or join my featured workshop via WOW! Women On Writing.com.
**Summer Special $249** June 4th, July 2nd, July 30th only.
Tags: blog tour, book tour, guest blogging, how to develop an online presence, how to do a virtual book tour, how to market your book online, how to promote your book online, how to set up a blog tour
In-person book tours are a great opportunity to meet readers, but even multi-store/multi-state tours have a limited reach. A blog tour has the potential to introduce your book to readers across the globe.
What is a blog tour?
A blog tour is a series of guest “appearances” on blogs that relate to your book’s topic and/or have an audience of readers who would be interested in your book. Bloggers agree to host a virtual event to promote your book, and it provides new and interesting content for their readers. It’s a win/win partnership.
Your guest appearance can include an original article or commentary you provide, an interview conducted by your hostess, a book review, or any other promotion agreed upon by you and the blogger.
Benefits of going on a book blog tour:
- increased visibility for your book
- connect with readers
- develop your online presence
- drive traffic to your blog and/or website
- possibility for book sales
That’s 5 great reasons why you should get started now!
How do I plan my road trip?
Locate blogs that focus on the topic of your nonfiction book, or the theme and scope of your fiction book, as well as, blogs whose readers are your target audience. Begin by searching any of the hundreds of blog directories like Technorati, Blog Catalog, and Blogher. Take note of high-traffic blogs and blogs with high reader interaction (a lot of comments).
If you haven’t already done so, download the Alexa Toolbar for your Firefox browser. It’s a useful tool to evaluate the traffic of the blogs and websites you visit. Check the ranking of the blogs on which you would like to appear; if their ranking is in the 20 millions (or listed as “no rank”), making that tour stop might not be the best use of your marketing time. [*Note: The lower the number, the more traffic the site receives. For example, The New York Times website is #99 in the world.] But, do keep in mind that any blog where your article, interview, or review appears will be archived indefinitely and available to anyone who searches the internet for your name or book title. It means more hits show up on Google and other search engines. That’s how you develop your internet presence.
Is there anything I need to pack?
Yes! The two most important things you need to have before embarking on a blog tour is 1) A book. 2) A blog or website. That may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many writers take off on the trip before their bags are in the car. Don’t begin your blog tour until your book is available for purchase in stores and/or online. If readers become excited about your book, they want a way to buy it immediately. If it’s not available, you risk the chance of them forgetting about it—and that means you lose the opportunity for book sales.
Don’t begin your blog tour until you have a blog or website set up. If readers are interested in you and/or your book, they want a way to find out more. Without the ability to click through to a blog or website, you lose the opportunity to develop your following. Personally, I recommend a blog over a static website—it raises your visibility with the search engines, and it allows your new-found followers to interact with you. Don’t start your tour and miss out on selling books and developing your audience by forgetting the necessities—your book and your blog.
How do I prepare for each blog stop?
Ask the blogger what topic she would like you to write about or whether she would like to ask you some interview questions. Ask for the word-count range she prefers. Read her previous posts and familiarize yourself with the type of content she provides—whether it’s informative or entertaining. Read comments from her readers to get a feel for her audience.
What do I include in my guest post luggage?
Craft your guest post or interview to highlight your topic knowledge, your personality, and promote your book.
Provide the blog hostess with
- a brief bio
- your book cover and headshot images (low-res/web-optimized jpg files)
- the links to your blog and/or website, and to your book’s listing on Amazon
- a well-written post or thoughtful answers to her interview questions
- a signed/personalized copy of your book for the blog hostess (optional, but recommended)
- an offer to provide a signed copy for a free drawing for her readers (optional)
Should I check in with the visitor’s bureau?
On the day your guest post goes live, leave a comment inviting the blog visitors to ask questions and comment on your post, and tell them you’ll monitor the blog and respond. Be sure to checkmark the box to be notified when new comments are posted. It will help you keep track of the blog visitors who want to connect with you. Think of your blog tour like a neighborhood party. Readers will be stopping by for conversation. Fostering the back-and-forth exchange will help you develop your following by allowing readers to get to know you.
What should be on my tour itinerary?
If you can get a high-profile online magazine to do an interview with you, you have the opportunity to reach more readers than you would with an individual blog. But, like with the personal blogs, you need to provide some value/interest for the magazine’s readers.
Interview on WOW! Women on Writing
Writing blogs are a perfect choice for your blog tour, especially if your book is a how-to aimed at writers, or if you provide services for writers such as editing, ghostwriting, workshops, etc. Writer bloggers enjoy having informative guest posts about the craft, and interviewing other authors about their writing process.
Article: Who Really Cares About Your Story, Anyway? How to Write a Memoir with Universal Appeal
Article: Discover the History Within Your Memoir
Article: D.I.Y. Publishing—Is It an Option for You?
Article: The Author Promotion Circus is in Town—Start Juggling Now!
Interview: Capturing Your Voice and Emotion in Memoir
Interview: About Memoir Writing
Interview: Step-by-Step Through the Writing Process
Interview: What it Takes to Keep Writing Despite Your Busy Life
Reader and Topic Interest Blogs
Reader blogs are the best place to connect to your target audience. Readers love hosting authors, helping promote their books, asking questions about the writing process, and having authors write about themes or topics in their books. Choose blogs that have readers who fit your demographic, would resonate with your story, and be most likely to purchase your book.
Commentary: Homeschool Mom Steps Outsitde the Box and Dances on Top
Commentary: Seeking Prince Charming, White Horse, and Sunset
Interview: Putting Your Life onto the Page
Interview: Opening Up in Print
Review blogs are a great way to have coverage of your book done by readers who have a web presence. It gives your search results some variety when reviews come up alongside your articles and interviews.
Review by Reading Writing & Stuff that Makes Me Crazy
Review by Confessions of a Book-a-holic
Don’t forget your map!
Taking your book on a blog tour is one of the most cost-effective and time-saving marketing techniques you can use to promote your book, develop your online presence, and connect with readers all at once!
For a wonderful step-by-step resource to help you plan your blog tour, check out: http://quickest.blogbooktourguide.ever.com and you can join the Yahoo listserv bookblogtours for more help getting started.
Enjoy the journey!
Tags: Annette Fix, book award scams, ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards, Independent Publisher Book Awards, IPPYs, The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir, Writer's DIgest Self-Publishing Book Awards, writing contest scams
I was emailing back and forth with a new writer friend who passed on a link to me for an upcoming awards contest for self-published books. She loved my book, The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir, and thought I should enter the contest.
Now, she’s fairly new to the publishing game, so I tried to put myself back into a pair of shiny newbie shoes and see the excitement of it from her perspective—instead of looking at it through the eyes of my crusty, well-worn cynicism.
Then I thought: “Hey, wait a minute!” This snarky ol’ broad (me) has learned a thing or two by taking quite a few tricycle trips around the publishing block. So, I decided I need to warn the newbies: keep them from falling into the open manhole (er…personhole?) of wasting money and hope on award contests that don’t deliver the gift-wrapped manna from the publishing gods that they often promise.
I went to the link she provided and decided to read the contest FAQs to see what this “opportunity” was all about. Ok, I’ll be honest, I went there to gather good fodder for a blog post. And I knew I’d find it. One claim I came across made me choke on my own spit. (Don’t try to pretend you’ve never done that before.) I thought this particular claim was either wonderfully egocentric and naive, or insidiously misleading for a clueless newbie who may not know any better:
- “What makes _________ Book Awards so special?
- The ________ Book Awards is the only awards program of its kind because cash prizes and/or awards and maximum exposure (even possible representation) with a leading New York literary agent are given to the top 70 books entered.”
I won’t even talk about how much of a hot mess that sentence is. But, seriously? Claiming it’s the ONLY awards program of its kind?! Um…no. Not gonna fly.
The top self-pub awards: ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year (11 years); The IPPYs (13 years); Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards (17 years), and The Nautilus Book Awards* (10 years). These awards programs are actually worth entering. Long-standing proof of excellence? Yep. Respected judging panels? Got it. Industry-wide recognition? Check.
Newbies, grab a Q-tip. Clean out your wet-behind-the-ears ears and listen closely: If the awards contest you plan to enter DOES NOT have these qualities—step away from the PayPal button and go make a cup of tea. My favorite is Zen Mango with honey. Pour me a cup while you’re at it.
Here’s the deal, there are soooo many book “awards” sites that are all primed to take your money. They may be legitimate awards contests: Yes—you pay the entry fee and have the chance to win some prize money and you get a medal/trophy/ribbon or gold-plated mouse pad. And maybe a literary agent will look at your book (or maybe not, you’ll never actually know). But, no one in the industry takes those awards seriously. And while you are crossing your fingers and toes, hoping to win, the person hosting the contest is laughing all the way to the bank with your money and the money from hundreds (maybe thousands) of hopeful author/publishers just like you.
Don’t be the author who helps fund his first-class ticket to Barbados.
*Editor’s note: Thanks go out to a reader for catching my oversight in mentioning the Nautilus Awards in my original post. The Nautilus recognizes books that inspire spiritual growth, conscious living, and positive social change. And I can’t think of a better reason for a book award!
Tags: Annette Fix, Ellen Degeneres, Excellence in Media, Joel Roberts, KABC talk radio, The Language of Impact
Oprah is great, but my goal is to get the opportunity to teach Ellen a new dance. I’m not famous and my book isn’t a bestseller (yet), but in preparation for that eventuality, I figured it was time to kick my media game up a notch and learn what it takes to get booked and be a great guest, so I can get my message out there.
I signed up for a three-day workshop, Excellence in Media: The Language of Impact, hosted by Joel Roberts. Yes, the Joel Roberts, a dynamic, big-hearted, former prime time talk show host for KABC Talk Radio in Los Angeles. And I have to say, it was probably the most solid info I’ve ever gotten from a seminar. Joel definitely knows his stuff and he did a great job teaching everyone to implement his techniques. By the end of the weekend, I saw a huge improvement in the way everyone pitched themselves and performed in their mock interviews. My head buzzed with ideas of how to showcase my expertise and experiences for the media.
I can’t even begin to sum up everything I learned, but here are a few basic points Joel covered in much greater detail:
- Watch the show you want to be on as often as you can, especially during sweeps (Nov. Feb. May) to see the types of segments that bring the biggest audiences.
- Check the show websites in the middle of the week, at least weekly for segment updates.
- The segment producer is your first audience. Pretend you are face to face during the initial pitch call. Smile and bring your energy to your voice.
- Do not be afraid of controversy. It’s a show segment dream.
- Check for incidents in the news that you can use to tie in to your message. The best topics are topical.
- Use interesting elements from your life to sell your story.
- Take your passion with you, don’t tone yourself down.
- Anytime you can take an accepted idea and turn it on its ear—that’s myth busting. Media wants the counter intuitive element.
- Key message points should be delivered in 1 minute = units of impact, nuggets of wisdom, sound bites.
- Your power as a communicator is a balance between your humanity and your expertise.
- Decide what you are claiming and what you are not. You are either a guru or a witness. A guru knows what’s best for you. A witness shares their experience and says derive from it what you will.
- Do not pitch books/products, services, businesses; pitch issues. Do the producers work for them.
- If you want people to move, you have to move them. What moves others about you? Find the nuclear core of your idea. Grab ‘em fast and keep ‘em long.
- Prompt the attack you want to defend against. Provide the suggested questions that will give you the opportunity to answer in the way and with the content you want to.
- Never give away your trademark phrases to the reporter in your sample questions—have the pearls come out of your mouth in the interview.
- Every show has a population target, only two axis on the graph = young/old and male/female. (Oprah = Women 28-65; Howard Stern = Men 18-35)
- If you can’t skew your message to the demographic of the show audience, you’re dead. Find a way to be inclusive with your message.
- Don’t have only the story. Have take-away tips for the audience. How can they replicate your success?
Overall, Joel’s workshop was so comprehensive that I’ll definitely use his pitching and interview techniques to craft my current and future messages for the media. There was one thing in particular he said that really resonated with me. You see, I often sing from the rooftops about people and products/services I think are of great value, but I have a tendency to be more humble and subdued about my own contributions. Call it an anti-arrogance gene. In response to this, Joel said:
“It is essential to be comfortable demanding the attention of the public. Anything short of that won’t do. You deserve the attention of the media. Humility is not the denial of your gift; it is acknowledging the source of your gift and then giving it fully. By the time you go to the media, you should stand for your value, your contribution, and the solution it provides.”
Well, there ya go. That’s just what I needed to hear. Now, it won’t be long before I’m teaching Ellen my signature Booty Bounce.
Tags: Annette Fix, book festival, book signing, hand-selling your book, how to have a best selling novel, meet the readers, promote your book, sell books, The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir, word-of-mouth marketing
When it comes to promoting your book at a festival (or a bookstore event), the most important thing you can do is reach out to readers. Your personality is what sells your book. The more approachable and engaging you are, the more likely you are to attract readers to your table.
Your goal should be twofold—to meet and form a personal bond with readers, and to sell books. The reader wants an experience. Before your story has the opportunity to whisk them away on a literary journey, you can begin the adventure by making it personal.
This last Sunday, I promoted, signed, and sold my book, The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir, at the West Hollywood Book Fair. It was my second fair this year and I really had a great time interacting with the readers and writers who came to the booth. So, I decided to offer up some tips for successfully hand-selling your book.
The biggest mistake I’ve seen authors make at book fairs that I have attended as a reader and where I have displayed as an author is when the author sits behind the table like a chunk of driftwood. Just the act of being there in-person isn’t enough.
Smile and Say Hello
Greeting someone is the #1 action that encourages people to respond favorably to you. I often ask if the person is a reader or a writer. Book events attract both. If the person responds that she is a reader, I ask what she likes to read. That opens a dialogue where you both can discuss your favorite books and you can segue into telling her why you wrote your book. If the person responds that she is a writer, I ask what she likes to write. That opens a dialogue about the writing process which gives you the opportunity to talk about writing your book.
If Your Book is Informational Rather Than Narrative Based
Open with the same smile and friendly greeting, but ask about their interest in your topic. If you’ve written about anything “how-to” from Dealing with Aging Parents to How to Break into Modeling, you can engage the person by asking about their experiences. Sharing common ground and offering tips based on your book is a great way to invest the reader in your expertise. You have information they want/need. Sharing some of that freely in conversation will encourage them to learn more from your book.
That Little Thing Called Sales
Everyone has a different style and comfort level when it comes to selling and promoting their books. I’m not a hard-sell kinda girl. I enjoy meeting people and talking to them about my story. I’d rather they have a great experience, remember me as an author who is genuine, and then buy my book later, than have them walk away feeling hustled. But that’s just me.
Just by engaging the reader, you’ve established a connection with another human being and it allows you to share about your book. The aggressive hard-sell turns off the potential reader and doesn’t encourage a good experience or a willing book purchase.
In a previous post, Promoting Your Book at A Book Fair – Part One, I suggested promotional ideas to help you create a visually attractive display and included a comprehensive list to make sure you have all the items you need for a day at the book fair. Many of these promotional items can also be used to dress-up your table at bookstore signings.
What if They Looked but Didn’t Buy?
If someone is truly interested in your story or the information you have in your book, they will buy it in their own time. Make sure you have promotional materials they can take away with them. Many readers I encountered picked up a bookmark and said they buy their books on Amazon, so they can get the discount and free shipping. So, remember your twofold goal—bond and sell. If you’ve established a solid connection with the reader when you met them, and they didn’t buy immediately, the sale will come later when they are ready.
If you’ve followed my suggestion to have a guestbook on your table (Promoting – Part One), remember to ask the readers who buy your book (and the people who are interested in your story, but didn’t purchase a book) to sign your guestbook and leave their city and email address. Offer to let them know when you will be in their area and tell them you will let them know when your next book comes out. If you have a reading group type book, offer to do a Q&A with their group. For an informational book, offer to do a seminar for their group or organization. It can be in-person or a telechat.
Once you return home, enter their email addresses into your database and send them a quick note to say you enjoyed meeting them, include a link to your book website, and invite them to follow you on your social networks.
It’s all about making a connection. No matter where you promote and sell your book, you want to make sure to leave a positive and lasting impression on your reader. They will become your biggest word-of-mouth marketers and they will be there to support you when your next book comes out.
Tags: Annette Fix, book promotion tips, speaking, workshops and seminars
Recently, I attended a panel discussion about book marketing and promotion because it’s always good to consider tips from other authors and marketing professionals. You never know when someone might share an idea you haven’t thought of, or will say something that resonates with you in a new way.
Here are some of the suggestions I’ve gathered:
Write about something you have a passion for.
Hopefully, this was something you considered before you began writing. It’s definitely something to keep in mind. You’ll be working on writing, publishing, and promoting your book for a long time–many years, so make sure it’s something you will have a tireless passion for.
Connect with your target audience. Craft your marketing copy for the visual impact that will appeal to your demographic. Ask yourself these questions: What do they want? How do they communicate? What media do they use? What are they reading? Where do they live? Make a visual board of whom they are and write/promote to that visual.
Don’t rely on someone else to do your publicity. No one knows your product better than you do. Don’t ever give up. When you are contacting media outlets, if you get turned down, realize that “No” is only temporary—it just means “No right now,” not “No forever.” Make contact calls to radio stations and create a relationship with the show producer or assistant. Don’t ask, “Are you busy.” They are always busy. Call with a specific point to make and explain to them how your information will entertain or inform their listeners.
Develop a diverse promotional plan. Always give out postcards and leave them places—you never know who will pick them up. Nothing is ever too small—go to everything and promote, promote, promote. Set Google alerts and follow up with journalists who write articles about your topic—introduce yourself and offer to be a source for any of their future needs. Connect with a charity that ties in with your book. Keep your mind open to any marketing possibilities that arise.
Maintain a blog. This has become standard piece of advice, but you’d be surprised how many writers have still not taken the plunge into the blogosphere. Once you do, pursue opportunities for blog tours. Post on topic relevant blogs. There are many ways you can promote your book online. Join social networking sites and get involved in the groups. Create video trailers. The internet is moving toward video everything.
Use Amazon to your advantage. Read the popular books in your genre/topic, go to their book pages on Amazon and post a review. Use “Author of __your book title_” in your signature. Create a Listmania and So You’d Like To list of books in your topic/genre—and include your book. Align yourself with the bestsellers.
A book is only one part of your platform. Your platform is everything you do that goes along with your book that you can sell. Information is the most important commodity. You can have a book for $10 and offer a course for $99. Think of all the other possibilities of things you can create related to your product. An author of a humorous relationship book about not kissing frogs created toad bags, frog shirts, frog notes, etc. You can go to a licensing show to sell rights for other merchandise related to your book. She is now shooting “frogisodes” for downloads on cellphones. Continually ask: what other things can I provide?
Repurpose your content any way you can. People want information in a variety of formats. You can conduct teleclasses, in-person workshops, and webinars about the info in your book, sell special reports or tips booklets. The more ways you can find to repackage your content, the faster you will be able to grow your business and reach your readers.
Get proper speaker training. I received a call a few days ago from Mark Victor Hansen’s office (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and during our discussion, his marketing assistant mentioned that Mark’s philosophy is that speakers should be writers and writers should be speakers. So, if you are following this growing trend and you plan to speak on your topic, don’t speak without training. Mark has a seminar coming up November 7-9 that can start you on that path. You can look into training opportunities with The National Speaker’s Assoc. (NSA). Some of their local chapters have a program called Pro Speak. You can also join a local Toastmasters to help hone your skills.
Post an audio excerpt on your website. Audio Acrobat is a $19.95 mo. service that has the ability to create audio messages you can place on your website, blog, and emails or newsletters. Check out the way it’s used on www.speakerservices.com. Speakers need audio on their site. No one is going to hire you without some sort of demo.
Become a shameless self-promoter. Understand that what you are doing is valuable. Tell people about your book because you know your information may help them. Connect with what you have to offer and believe in it. Consider your return on investment–for your time, effort, and money–in everything you do to market your book. Put together a marketing plan and be diligent with following it. Stay focused. There is only so much time in a day, but you need to be flexible enough to change your plan if you need to. Look at what is most strategic for your goals.
If you are selling a story instead of information, ask: What is in this memoir or novel? Where is it set? Target the individual audience of the kinds of characters, careers, sports, etc., in your book. Tie in to trends. There is no time window when a book becomes old. Jane Austin is still selling books.
Keep your eyes on the news. No matter whether you’ve written fiction or nonfiction, if any news ties in to topics or themes in your book, you can use the current event to renew interest in your book. Timing is everything. If you see something, jump on it immediately. Tie it to an event or a holiday. Find gift shops or organizations or companies—think beyond the bookstore.
Don’t let your books sit on the shelf. Do whatever you can to move them! It’s never too soon to begin marketing your book and building your platform. And it’s never too late to get started.
On your mark, get set—PROMOTE!
Tags: Annette Fix, best pr lead service, expert source service, find sources for your articles, HARO, Help A Reporter Out, journalists looking for sources
Today, I want to share a great resource with you. Some of you may be familiar with Profnet, a service reporters use to post their calls for expert sources and a service that sources pay for to receive these calls.
As an author, you are the expert they want to connect with. It gives you the opportunity to be quoted in articles or even featured in stories. However, it’s rather pricey to sign up for this service.
But there is a new service in town (play appropriate Western music here).
You’ll want to tell the PR people, marketers, publicists, editors, and journalists you work with about it too, because it’s all about them and their needs.
If you’re not already using HARO – Help A Reporter Out (www.helpareporter.com), check it out. It’s a service much like ProfNet, but it’s free. Yes, F*R*E*E. It used to be on Facebook, but grew too large for it.
Once you subscribe, you receive three emails per day with reporter, editor, and freelance writer queries compiled in it, written so you can quickly and easily scan the topics for relevance.
If the topics do not apply to you, just hit delete. If they do, you may contact the reporter or editor directly, as instructed.
Note that Peter Shankman, the list facilitator, is very strict about helping out these reporters. Respond only if your information is relevant and on target. If not, you’ll get bumped off the list. Quickly. I’ve seen it happen. So, don’t pitch off topic to the media journalists. It’s a great resource and you don’t want to risk blowing the opportunity to use it.
Peter’s a big believer in good Karma, and he’s also quite funny, and tends to also include a link to a fun site, or a funny story about his day in the emails. It’s a nice refreshing change from the boring, non-funny emails we usually deal with daily.
Not only can you sign up to receive these source calls, but if you are writing a book or freelance article and need expert sources, you can submit a call to the HARO members. Peter just announced this week that membership hit 13,000.
Reporters/source seekers can post queries at www.helpareporter.com/press. Sources can sign up at www.helpareporter.com to receive the calls for submissions. As I said, it’s free. Peter asks that if you find it useful, then you make a donation to any animal rescue charity or animal hospital.
You can forward the queries to others who are a fit, but do not post any queries (or the editor/reporter contact info) on any blogs or public websites. I received permission from Peter to blog about this, since this is a private group and I’m helping to spread the word to both subscribers and media to sign up.
The more people who use HARO, the better it becomes. Sign up, check it out, use it responsibly, and spread the word.
Tags: Annette Fix, Book Expo America, tips for attending a trade show
If you are an author and you haven’t heard of Book Expo America, it’s time to crawl out from behind your computer and attend the largest international publishing trade show this side of Frankfurt.
Most years, the show is held in NY (as it was last year), but this year, it will be in Los Angeles. BEA will be back in NY in 2009, D.C in 2010, and Vegas, baby in 2011.
I attended last year and will be on the convention floor again this year, talking to publishers about my memoir, The Break-Up Diet, promoting WOW! (www.wow-womenonwriting.com) with my website partner Angela, and visiting with the agents and editors we’ve met over the last two years.
I have a few tips for those of you who plan to attend the show to seek an agent or a publisher. These are little things I noticed at the event last year. I’ll refer to the people you will meet at BEA in the big house booths as publishers through my list of observations; although, many of the people there are from the marketing department, sales team, acquisitions editors, etc.
First thing–if you want to be taken seriously by the publishers, don’t look like a walking billboard for your book (or your manuscript). Dressing like your main character–waaay too much. Book cover t-shirts–too much. Book cover buttons–borderline too much; although, certainly not as bad as the previous two ideas. It makes you stand out like a desperate writer and doesn’t draw the kind of attention you want. Treat the experience like you would if you were trying to meet an agent at a writer’s conference–be casual, but professional. Think of it like this, if you had a meeting at their office, you wouldn’t show up wearing a body bag to promote your murder mystery.
Take more business cards than you think you will need. After you get a business card from someone you meet, step away and write notes on the back about what was discussed. This is crucial. By the end of the trade show, you won’t remember unless you take notes.
Don’t monopolize the publisher’s time when you approach them. Have your elevator pitch boiled down to 30 seconds (and I seriously mean, 30 seconds). If you talk for longer than that, they will be looking over your head for a way to escape. Think of it like a party full of popular people. They want to be talking to the in-crowd, not a boor who is droning on and on about the plot to their story. You want to pique their interest. If they are interested, they will ask questions. If they aren’t, they won’t. Either way, get in, get out, and thank them for their time.
Find out who you should be talking to before you launch into your elevator pitch. You may be talking to a receptionist. Although, from what I noticed, many of the people wo-manning the booths are in filter mode, no matter what department they work in. They will determine if you have anything of interest to the right people. If you do, you’ll get the introduction, if not, you’ll get the brush off.
Your goal should be to get them to request that you send your book/manuscript to them. That being said, it’s highly unlikely they will. The majority of publishers don’t want to waste their time on an unknown writer (whether self-published or seeking traditional publishing). They will tell you to submit to them through an agent.
If you have already self-published your book and are looking to have it “picked up” by a major house, have your important facts on the tip of your tongue–how long it’s been out, how many units you’ve sold, what kind of reviews it’s getting, any awards it’s received, what you are doing to market it, what kind of platform you have, etc.
And here’s the catch 22 of the whole thing–most publishers don’t want to talk to you on the first day. It’s an industry trade show–they are catching up and networking with their peers from other houses and also promoting their recently released list and upcoming releases. On the second day, most publishers don’t want to talk to you then either. They are conducting serious business* and most are completely booked with meetings. *If you see people sitting at a table in the booth chatting, DO NOT approach them. That is a meeting in progress. On the last day, it’s pretty settled and much quieter–the initial excitement has died down, everyone has gotten a chance to see and talk to everyone they wanted to. The booths are at half-staff and there are considerably less attendees.
Have a plan. Get a map of the convention floor and target who you want to talk to. But don’t forget to wander around and check things out at the different booths. I found a great vendor for novelty items in the small press area. So, keep your mind open to meeting people who you can work with or use the services of at a later date.
One observation about the small press area. While walking down the aisles in Siberia, Angela and I felt like fresh meat that had just wandered into the lair of starving cannibals. It’s the only place in the trade show where people are leaping into the aisles, grabbing your arm, and trying to get you to take their book or postcard or bookmark. Sadly, that is the way most writers approach the publishers too. I watched that happen all around us in NY.
You may be tempted to collect every advance reading copy and recent release being handed out. Trust me, there will be a ton. And they are all free. My personal rule–I don’t take a book unless I’m totally interested in it and plan to write a review. I picked up one book last year. Some people collect them and they try to sell them on Ebay. (Please don’t be one of those people.) And a comment about the women you will see loaded down with bags of books–most of them are librarians picking up books for their libraries. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to get things they don’t have a budget for.
Bring a Cliff bar or other energy bar to tide you over. There is so much going on that you may not want to take a break to eat. You may even want to tuck a sandwich into your bag. The food lines are long (as are the lines for the restrooms) and there are few places to sit, so you’d better be ready for a marathon day on your feet.
Speaking of feet… WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. I can’t stress that enough. It was hot last year, almost stifling, so I wore sandals and was very glad I chose a pair of cork wedges with soft straps.
Overall, it’s a great experience, even if you only go for one day to check out the action. The floor is buzzing with conversation (it’s deafening in there); it’s wall-to-wall people, and everyone is excited about what they are promoting. It’s a place to see the trends (keep an eye out for great marketing ideas), be seen (make a good impression on everyone you meet), and network (meet as many people as possible). BEA is not a place to sell; it’s a place to make connections for future business.
Have fun with it!
Tags: Annette Fix, how to promote your book at a book fair, L.A. Times Festival of Books, successful book event, The Break-Up Diet
Spring and summer are the best seasons for book fairs and festivals. Whether you have a book to promote or just want to spend a great day surrounded by other bibliophiles, check out this link to find an event in your area. http://www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook/bookfair.html
On April 26th & 27th, I promoted and signed my memoir at my first festival. I spent the weekend with 140,000 book lovers on the beautiful UCLA campus for the L.A. Times Festival of Books. I’m now getting around to unpacking my supplies.
This was my first book fair, so it was a great experience to find out what you do and don’t need for a successful book fair event.
Here is my list of recommended items:
- Collapsible luggage dolly
You’re going to need something to transport your books, sometimes quite a distance from where your car will be parked.
- Box of books
I was overly optimistic for a debut author. I took a case of 32 and left two more cases in the trunk of my car. Lesson of the day: Some people will buy on-site, most will wait to buy on Amazon to get the discount and free shipping.
- Tote bag (large enough to hold your supplies)
I found a great 20 x 12 x 10 zippered rolling bag at the L.A. garment district for $20. It’s best to get a bag with wheels, so if you need to take it separately from your dolly of books, you can drag it instead of lug it.
- Vinyl Banners
I had two 18 x 27 vinyl banners printed. They were very reasonably priced ($23 each) and well made. The banners roll up and transport easily, and also have grommets for hanging. You want to make sure you choose a banner size that is large enough to be seen from a distance. (Click on the thumbnails for a larger view.)
You’ll need an easel to hold your banners unless they will be attached to the booth. Place them as close to the front of the booth and near the walkway as possible, so they can be seen by people passing by.
- Tabletop display stands
I chose wrought iron to avoid the displays being knocked over by the afternoon breeze. I found a great set in the picture frame section of my local craft store for $5 each. I used one to hold my book and the other to hold a 14 x 16 “Meet the Author” foam-core poster printed at Kinko’s (the same image used for the vinyl banner). It’s important to have a tabletop “Meet the Author” image because otherwise passersby assume you are just selling the books and don’t realize you are actually the author.
- Theme item(s)
I use a cute recipe box on my table to hold the bookmarks for my memoir: The Break-Up Diet. You can use any object, functional or decorative, to draw visual interest to your table.
- Promotional bookmarks or postcards
You definitely want something with your book cover image, the ISBN, and your book website address on it. Not everyone will buy your book at the fair and if they have something to take home, it raises your chances of making a sale later. If you include something funny or informative on the back of the bookmark or postcard, something that ties in with your book, you’ll have a better chance of people keeping it. I included a humorous recipe on the back of mine.
- Material table drapes
I went to my local fabric store and chose a couple yards of two contrasting colors (the same blue and black as my book). But I’m not exactly Betty Homemaker, so I also picked up some double-sided, iron-on hem tape to finish the edges.
- Review cards
Go to Amazon.com and pull your best reader reviews. Print them onto a single sheet of colored paper with enough reviews to fill both sides. Laminate the page at Kinko’s, so it stays neat from the handling it will receive. It’s a great sales tool because it gives your potential reader the opportunity to see how much other readers have enjoyed your book.
- Cash box
I chose a cash box that was small, but also had the features I wanted. I didn’t want to mess with a credit card machine, so the cash box worked out well. Don’t forget to bring your reseller’s permit, a sales tax table for your selling area, a calculator, and money for making change.
- Receipt book
This is the best way to keep track of your sales and inventory. Trust me, you’ll be talking to so many people that by the end of the fair, you won’t remember how many books you’ve sold until you go through your receipts.
- Guest book
Ask the visitors who come to your booth to sign your guest book and include their email address for the chance to win a drawing for a free book. This will help you build your opt-in email database, and your lucky winner will be excited to receive a copy of your book!
- Signing pens
Bring a fine point Sharpie; I had several teens come around wanting their book fair posters autographed. I use a comfortable grip gel pen for signing my books; it doesn’t bleed through and the gel doesn’t hang up on the page like a ballpoint pen. The cushioned grip and slightly thicker base helps if you have carpal tunnel like I do.
- Give-away candy
This works very well to bring people to the table. Who can pass up a Hershey’s Kiss or Jolly Rancher hard candy? Most people won’t grab and go, so while they are unwrapping their candy, you can tell them about your book.
Now for the personal stuff:
- Sun protection
Don’t forget your sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat (especially if your table is uncovered). One of my girlfriends dropped by with a little spray bottle of water–it was great for a facial spritz to help with evaporative cooling.
- Water & Snacks
Like most fairs, the food and drinks were astronomical ($5 for a cup of lemonade), so do yourself a favor and freeze some bottles of water the night before, as they thaw, they’ll provide the hydration you’ll definitely need. Pack a lunch and/or some granola bars to get you through the day. On a side note, bring a travel bottle of anti-bacterial gel for your hands to help clean up before you eat.
If you think it might get cool in the late afternoon or evening, it’s better to have a light cover-up than not.
Of course you’ll want pictures to post on your blog!
Check back for Part 2: That Little Thing Called Sales.