Are You Participating

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Marketing tip # 2 Participate.

There is a learning curve in marketing. The less you know the longer the curve. Educating yourself before you even have a book to market shortens the curve by miles. The easy way to learn to maneuver the writer’s marketing journey is to participate in others’ journeys.

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Facebook Virtual Launch Parties reach across state lines.

I’ve participated in a few virtual launch parties, and its easier than I would have first thought. Now with Facebook live, it can be even more fun.  Lots of posting, trivia questions, and giveaways.  Even if you don’t win it’s a great time.  I haven’t had a chance to be on someone’s launch team and be part of the behind the scenes crew. But I’ve taken my own advice and asked a lot of questions from those who have.

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Beth Ann  Ziarnik participates in her live Book Launch with wonderful results.

 

 

Participate in live events

I’ve been to book signings and have supported authors when I can. I’ve stopped by author booths and craft shows and learned how effective this sort of event is.

Participate in Conferences

Going to and meeting fellow authors at conferences can help build a plank on your platform. People who provide information and help when you are published. Attend classes. Have lunch with a new friend. Thank speakers and teachers for their time and knowledge. They will remember you and may be more willing to lend a hand in promoting your work.

Cynthia Ruchti  always looks sharp. This is how a successful writer should dress.

I meet one of my favorite authors, Cynthia Ruchti at a conference.

Participate in the world around you

Writers are often solitary individuals. Keeping company with their characters and lots of books. Get out of your writing cave. Find friends who are not writers and do things together. Volunteer at church or organizations so people know who you are. If you are employed be sociable. These people are future book buyers. Friends are more willing to take a chance on your story even if it’s not something they would normally read. Those friendships are golden for free promotion.

How do you participate in preparation for marketing?

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Ten years in the Making: A Book Contract

contract

 

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw my recent announcement. I received my first book contract. It only took 10 years to get there. Oh, let’s not forget 20 rejections, many rewrites and several edits. Years of improving my writing skills through online writing courses and writing books.  Ten years of attending conferences. Submitting to magazines and websites with both success and failure. I’ve made the acquaintance of many writers, both newbies and seasoned pros. During my ten year journey I have added agents and publishers to that list of acquaintances.

Help others on the journey

I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and supported my fellow-writers anyway I can. I enjoy helping promote their books and sharing words of affirmation when they were discouraged. I have purposed to invest in others while I worked toward the illusive contract.

Keep learning

Actions such as joining critique groups, following writing blogs and reading a lot propelled me toward the goal of publication. This has been ten years of perseverance and determination. I’d confess “I am a writer” when I wanted to keep that proclamation to myself. Established writers encouraged me to learn how to use social media.  Then I started this blog, Writer’s Patchwork, where all these writerly parts are sown together into the bigger quilt of gaining a contract. (Clever play on words.)

Cindy's Editor's Choice Award-2

My award. I am so blessed.

Never give up

Anyway, the point I’m trying to press home is don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged and keep helping others in the industry. Keep focusing on your goal and over time you’ll get that book contract.

Come follow me

It will probably be a year before my novel will be available for sale. During that time, I will be posting the next stretch of my journey. Even though I have a contract, a mountain-load of work remains to be done before I see my book in print. I’ll share my experiences in hopes of inspiring all of you to keep going. And give you a glimpse into the process of contract to book shelf.

 If you don’t want to miss a post of my continuing journey, please subscribe in the right hand column.

 

Conference Tip # 6 Practice Your Pitch

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Practicing your writing pitch until its smooth is another key to get attention for your manuscript.

Preparing and doing a pitch is probably my least favorite thing to do. I find it hard to memorize and say it smoothly. There. I’ve admitted it to everyone. I love being a character on stage. I’m pretty comfortable with public speaking, I am the one nominated on mission trips to break the ice with the natives. But giving my pitch. My mind goes blank or the pitch comes out anything but perfect. Why? No idea. Maybe unlike a play where I am another character, this statement is all about me and my work. Promoting myself is hard for me.

Parts of a pitch

First you need a hook—a sentence to grab attention. Characters or topic and a final sentence to bring out the response: tell me more. A pitch is a few sentences stating what your novel, non-fiction or article is about. Often referred to as an elevator pitch because it needs to be short enough to share with someone before the elevator doors open at your destination. A pitch is like an oral business card. You want to have it with you to give when you have an opportunity.

The pitch needs to encapsulate your story. It should evoke questions. It should cause the editor to catch your idea, be intrigued and toss around the idea with you for a while.

Personalize your pitch

Spend time writing your pitch. Use words you are comfortable with. If a fifty dollar word gets hung up on your tongue use a simpler one. It should sound conversational not like a commercial.

Practice your pitch

Look in the mirror and recite it to yourself until you can say it over and over again without thinking about it. If you stumble reword it so you don’t. Recite it to others—your spouse, critique group, even your dog. The more you recite it, the more natural it will become. While practicing your pitch in the mirror think of follow-up questions and how you will answer them. Formulate an answer to each one. It will boast your confidence.

When to pitch

You will need your pitch when you have an appointment. It’s a quick way to get the ball rolling. It can lead to sharing your first chapter.

When you sit at the lunch table with an editor you don’t have an appointment with, you can share your pitch. (Agents, publishers, editors expect you to pitch them at lunch.) Some will ask everyone at the table about their projects. If you stutter and ramble and backtrack, it reeks of newbie and it is rude to the others at the table who hope to share their pitch as well.

If you are having a meal with other writers, ask to share your pitch both for practice and feedback. They may share their pitch with you and together you can encourage each other.

Examples

Here are examples of my latest pitches. I change them every year trying to make them smoother. As I said, I struggle with pitches. I feel very vulnerable sharing them with you. They are not as stellar as others’ pitches, but perhaps they will serve as a guide to creating your own. I suggest googling writers’ pitches to find some really cool ones.

My Historical pitch

Secrets and Charades finds Evangeline Olson’s shameful secret catching up with her through an unwanted inheritance. Fleeing west as a mail-order bride seemed the best solution. Jake Marcum needs a woman to gentle his tomboy niece. A female doctor is more than he bargained for and exactly what he needs. Together they must wade through secrets and a few unexpected charades to save his ranch and her heart.

My Contemporary pitch.

New Duet takes the reader on a journey of healing. After the sudden death of her abusive husband during a worship service, Isabella is shrouded in guilt and desperate to find her pre-marriage self. Wounded warrior Dan is looking for normal in a civilian world with the help of his service dog. Normal seems impossible when he’s missing a leg, some fingers and PTSD brings on panic attacks. Isabella is startled by her attraction to Dan after her late husband stripped away every vestige of Isabella’s former life including her name. Dan hopes his new normal includes Isabella in his life.

My Article pitch

I am a sandwich. My life is sandwiched between helping with grandchildren under six and parents in their eighties. Both are childlike in their responses to life. Yet, neither can be handled the same. When my sandwich is slipped into a Panini press of trials, my heart struggles to seek God’s grace in the midst of it all.

None of these pitches are as perfect as I would like them. I’ll be working to make them better. But I hope the examples will help you. And if you stumble through your pitch like me, smile and hand out your sell sheet. Works for me.

After the pitch

If your pitch results in “Tell me more,” have your sell-sheet or summary ready to pass over. Be prepared to share your first page. Bring the entire first chapter just in case. Share the completed article.

Don’t ramble on about your subject. Don’t explain why it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Again it screams newbie and unprofessional. Only answer the questions asked. Smile, be as enthusiastic as you can.

If your pitch results in crickets don’t resort to filling the silence with rambling information. This rarely happens. If you get less than an enthusiastic response, move on to the next pitch if you have one. Otherwise thank him/her for their time and shake their hand. Remember not everyone is going to find your pitch intriguing. But if at the end of the conference you find your pitch wasn’t achieving your goal, ask other writers for input as to how to make it better for the next time.

If you have any questions about pitching your book or want to share your own success story please comment. I love to hear from readers.

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Conference Tip # 3 Preparing Clips and Samples

I carry my clips and samples in a three ring binder with plastic sleeves.

I carry my clips and samples in a three ring binder with plastic sleeves.

Clips and samples show the writing world what you can do. Appointments with publishers go smoother when you can show rather than tell what you write. Let me define the two.

Clips

These are articles, poems, stories, devotionals, editorials, whatever you’ve had published. The term clips refers to articles cut out of magazines and periodicals. Some of your clips might be copies of magazine pages or print offs of website articles. Your most recent publications are best. No need to show twenty year old newspaper clippings. (I really have some of those.) Be sure the date and magazine title are somewhere on the copy. If you have a link to your work, I suggest you share a hardcopy. Wifi access may not be available where you meet with publishers and you waste precious minutes of your fifteen minutes looking for specific clips on your site. If they are interested in your link, you can write the web address on the back of your business card.

Samples

Samples are unpublished work to show your writing skills. Editors want to see if your style is right for their publication. Some editors want unedited versions. (Not rough drafts, rather items not professionally edited.) They want to see how polished your best work is. Bring only your best samples. You might want to go back over selections and tweak as needed to make them your best. Be sure you do your research about the publishing house or magazine in advance. (I’ll be discussing that in another post.) Only show samples of things fitting the particualr publishers needs.

Presentation is everything

I carry my clips and samples in a three ring binder. Each article is in its own sleeve. I usually have multiple copies of samples. Some editors like to mark up my work. That way I always have a clean sheet to show at the next appointment. The sleeves keep the pages neat. Some people like to bring their laptop to show their work. I find that too cumbersome, and it can give the impression of being unprepared. You grabbed your computer at the last minute because you didn’t have time to print anything off. If disaster happens and your printer dies, it’s worth the cost to go to Office Depot to make copies or buy ink for a friend’s printer, but don’t go without samples or clips. Some like to paperclip their sheets together and keep them in a file folder. Whatever works to keep your papers organized.

What’s in your toolbox so far

Let’s see, so far you’ve made a business card, a one-sheet and gathered samples and clips. You’re well on your way to filling your conference tool box for success. In my next post we’ll define synopsis and proposals. So of you haven’t subscribed to my blog you might want to do that by using the options to the right. I plan on covering the how-tos for a successful conference experience before May is over, and I am on my way to the Write-To-Publish conference in June.

How do you organize your clips and samples?

 

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Great reward for those who consistently attend writer’s conferences

My award. I am so blessed.

My award. I am so blessed.

For those of you who have never attended or no longer attend writer’s conferences I challenge you to rethink that. After attending writer’s conferences for six years, I have finally reaped an awesome reward. I was chosen as the recipient of the Editor’s Choice Award at the 2014 Write-To-Publish Conference. This award is for perseverance and potential. It entitles me to professional editing of my novel and mentoring and the opportunity to have my novel presented to the publication board of Lighthouse Publications of the Carolinas. Whether they actually decide to publish my book is another story. But it’s a win-win because my manuscript will be ready to present to any other interested party.

The truth about attending conferences

Often beginner writers approach a conference expecting to get a contract with the first editor they pitch their story to. They lug around their manuscript hoping someone will take it home with them. Those stories of instant contracts are few and far between, and if you get down to the real nitty-gritty of details, you will find most of these authors have paid their dues. They have attended conference after conference as true students of the craft of writing. Taking home all the information gleaned from the pros to apply to their own manuscript and marketing strategies. Networking with other writers to be encouraged as well as encourage.

Rowena Kuo presented me with my award. She is one of the wonderful editors full of enouragement for writers that I meet at Write-to-Publish.

Rowena Kuo presented me with my award. She is one of the wonderful editors full of enouragement for writers that I meet at Write-to-Publish.

Writers encouraging writers

For me, my first conference was a learning experience. I flew to Colorado Springs for the Writing for the Soul conference. On the plane I sat next to a published author. I don’t recall her name, only the blessing she was to me. During the flight she took the time to instruct me how to pitch my story ideas and who might be a good fit. She encourage me to enjoy the conference and have fun meeting others. At the conference one devotional editor took the time to mark up my devotional to show how it would best fit her needs. She gave me tips on the right attitude to bring to the editors I would pitch my novel idea to. The editors and agents were encouraging. I went home ready to write my novel.

Guess what, folks, I returned the next year to the same conference pitched my story, got interest. Went home and sent off my novel and got all rejections. 😦

Learning from rejection

That is the nature of the beast. One publisher was brave enough to say the writing wasn’t to their standard. 😦 😦 To his credit he was absolutely correct. I knew nothing about POV and many other fiction craft techniques. So, I took another class and read more craft books and continued submitting articles and writing skits and doing whatever writerly thing God brought my way while rewriting my novel.

Arthor Cynthia Ruchti not only was such a wonderful encouragement on my writng journey but she autographed her novel for me.

Arthor Cynthia Ruchti not only was such a wonderful encouragement on my writng journey but she autographed her novel for me.

Benefits of attending even if you don’t get a writing contract

The next four years I attended Write-To-Publish conference. Each time I went home and sent off my manuscript to those who requested it. Each time it was rejected. But I picked up other smaller writing assignments that gave me more publishing credits. I started this blog and a Facebook page. The third year I received excellent edits with my reject manuscript. I persevered through family tragedies and lots of life interrupting my rewrites and still wrote articles and short stories. Some getting rejected, others published.

This last year I reaped the blessing of my perseverance with this award. That is six years from my first conferences. Don’t wait until you have the perfect manuscript to attend. Don’t skip the opportunity because you have nothing to hawk. Come because you need to grow your craft, you need to network with writers, agents and editors. The secret ingredients at all conferences is the knowledge you can take home and the life-long friends you make. Both can grow your writing career at a faster pace than those who don’t attend.

 How has perserverance at a writer’s conference benefitted you?

Why Attend Writer’s Conferences

Every time I attend a writing conference I am reminded of
why I write. My encouragement to every writer, no matter their age or
experience, is to attend conferences.  There is never a time in your writing career
that you evolve out of writing conferences.  It is a place to hone your craft and network with other like-minded people.

Basic reasons for attending

You gain knowledge of the business of writing through workshops and classes which cover a variety of subjects. Basic techniques for writing non-fiction and fiction books are usually offered. Classes are available on subjects ranging from writing articles to creating a stellar proposal. The opportunity to have appointments with publishers, editors and agents to pitch your story or idea is worth the price of the conference. Many of these editors, publishers and agents will not take any unsolicited submissions. But if you meet them at a conference, your pitch may garner you an open invitation to submit.

Networking

Conferences are a networking opportunity to meet other writers and be encouraged.  One writer might direct you to a particular publisher who is seeking what you are writing. Established writers may give you personal introductions to the professionals you are seeking appointments with. Fledgling writers ask questions of other writers and get the encouragement and direction needed to turn their scribbles into successful submissions. You’ll discover writers who live in your area or alocal writer’s group to join.

Encouragement

This is the place where everyone speaks your language. No one rolls their eyes when you say you’ve written a novel.  You can practice your pitch with other
writers before you pitch it at your appointment.  Most conferences have critique groups of your peers to help you improve your writing. Unlike Aunt Sally who loves everything you write, they can tell you of any red flags in your writing that need fixing. That kind of encouragement makes the road to publication easier.

The keynote speakers remind writers of their calling. A writer’s revival if you will, that helps each writer refocus. Rekindling the confidence that has been chipped away by editors’ rejections and life happens interruptions.

Lifelong Friendships

Every time you attend a conference you make new friends and
reconnect with old ones.  Writer friends add dimension to your life and open doors.  Becoming friends with publishers that may not be interested in what you are writing now plants your name in their mind when the publisher’s needs change.  Acquisition Editors change publishing houses, agents may open their own company. Having made their acquaintance puts you in a good position to become a client.   Writer friends share the link to your new book or article on their blog, website or facebook page.  Let’s not forget they are there
when you feel stomped on by life and misunderstood in the industry.

Budget attending one conference a year

Serious writers know this is an important business expense. Decide on the conference you plan to attend early and put money aside in your budget for it.  If your finances are so tight you can’t fit the cost in a monthly budget, apply for scholarships or grants. Conferences will offer a limited number of scholarships, either full or partial to attendees. Some offer work scholarships for locals who help with the preconference preparation.  Do a Google search for writer’s grants or reference the Writer’s Market Guide and the Christian Writer’s Market Guide to pursue grant leads. The e-newsletter Funds for Writers has grant information
in every issue.

Locate a conference near you

The Sally Stuart Conference Guide http://stuartmarket.com/Conferences.aspx
is a great resource for finding the conference that is right for you.