BACK TO SCHOOL FOR WRITERS

April 22, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Posted in Promotion, Writing Craft | 2 Comments
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shcool

I’ve always been a fan of writer’s conferences. It’s a great way to gather new information to improve your craft, and stay connected to the creative pulse by networking with other writers.

A few weeks ago, I spoke at the 94th annual Missouri Writer’s Guild Conference in Cape Girardeau, MO. It was a wonderful event set in a lodge an hour outside of St. Louis.

I had such a great time. I also discovered that it’s a challenge to find the opportunity to spend time with fellow speakers and attendees, hear pitches, and conduct three sessions—all in two days. The weekend passed so quickly! I really enjoyed working with the MWG staff and chatting with writers. And I did want to say, it was an absolute pleasure meeting YA author and remarkable woman-around-town Christine Taylor-Butler; bubbly and engaging thriller novelist Barri Bumgarner; a true southern lady, award-winning mystery writer and novelist, Marcia Preston; television writer-author and hilarious Hollywood storyteller, Lee Goldberg; and Harvey Stanbrough—a consummate charmer and poet, nominated for a National Book Award, a Pulitzer and a Pushcart Prize—who should definitely win an award for making me blush several times!

In addition to enjoying the social aspects of my first professional speaking engagement, I held a three-hour memoir writing workshop, an hour-long session about how to find the right agent for your manuscript, and an hour-long session about online author and book promotion.

I received wonderful responses from the writers who attended my sessions and I was really glad that all the great information I was so excited to share didn’t make anyone’s head blow up. One YA writer in particular credited my help crafting his in-person pitch as the reason an editor in attendance requested his manuscript. That’s such an awesome feeling—to know I helped a writer get one step closer to his publishing dream. I’m officially addicted!

As I mentioned at the conference, this summer I’m launching my online workshops—my writer’s conference sessions on big time steroids. And I thought I’d let you, by loyal blog readers, know the registration link is up and running. So, check out my workshop page for details. Sign up soon; there are a limited number of spots available.

See you in class!

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Blog Tours: Take Your Book on The Cyber Road

March 26, 2009 at 9:16 am | Posted in Blogging, Promotion | 3 Comments
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blogtour 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 TechnoratiBlog 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?

Online Magazines

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 Betty Confidential
Women’s general interest ezine
http://www.bettyconfidential.com/ar/ld/a/Enter_to_Win_a_Copy_of_The_Break_Up_Diet.html

Interview on WOW! Women on Writing
Writing-related ezine
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/18-FE3-AnnetteFix.html

Writing Blogs

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
http://hellorhighwaterwriter.blogspot.com/2009/02/specia-guest-post-with-annette-fix.html

Article: Discover the History Within Your Memoir
http://www.urbanmusewriter.com/2009/02/guest-post-discover-history-within-your.html

Article: D.I.Y. Publishing—Is It an Option for You?
http://virtualwordsmith.blogspot.com/2009/02/guest-post-annette-fix-author-of-break.html

Article: The Author Promotion Circus is in Town—Start Juggling Now!
http://reading-writing.blogspot.com/2009/02/welcome-guest-blogger-annette-fix.html

Interview: Capturing Your Voice and Emotion in Memoir
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/2009/02/annette-fix-author-of-break-up-diet.html

Interview: About Memoir Writing
http://alltheblogsapage.blogspot.com/2009/01/memoir-writing-annette-fix-author-of.html

Interview: Step-by-Step Through the Writing Process
http://sybilbaker.blogspot.com/2009/02/blog-tour-annette-fix-on-writing.html

Interview: What it Takes to Keep Writing Despite Your Busy Life
http://daybydaywriter.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/author-interview-annette-fix/

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
http://ablondeandherblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/homeschool-mom-steps-outside-boxand.html

Commentary: February 14th – St. Romantic Expectations Day
http://thedailyblonde.com/2009/02/welcome-guest-blogger-annette-fix-author-of-the-break-up-diet-a-memoir/

Commentary: Seeking Prince Charming, White Horse, and Sunset
http://www.momecentric.com/2009/02/24/seeking-charming-prince-white-horse-and-sunset/#comment-6049

Interview: Putting Your Life onto the Page
http://www.clevergirlgoesblog.com/2009/02/break-up-diet.html

Interview: Opening Up in Print
http://stephaniesbooks.blogspot.com/2009/02/interview-with-annette-fix-author-of.html

Review Blogs

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
http://reading-writing.blogspot.com/2009/02/review-break-up-diet.html

Review by Confessions of a Book-a-holic
http://stephaniesbooks.blogspot.com/2009/02/not-so-ideal-way-to-lose-weight.html

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!

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