I’ll save you some time — and put you to work!

Standard

This New Yorker article about publishing phenom John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) was tweeted as a way for authors to build audience, but let me save you some time: unless you’re an incurable hipster with your finger on the zeitgeist of emo teens (shorts and argyle socks? Puh-leeze…) it’s not worth the EIGHT pages throughout which the writer drools about Green. The guy has really just been himself, yet gone viral for his quirky, nerd-centric personality that includes many video blogs (vlogs, for those in the know).

Do you have time for all of that, or do you just want to sell books?

Rather than trying to create years of witty, silly vlog postings with your siblings, these steps may help:

1) this post is a GREAT resource, really a checklist, for authors marketing their own work.. because if you don’t it won’t sell. And it doesn’t have to be strictly self-published, trust me, even those with contracts from major publishers have to push their own books

2) Make sure your info is out there, including your Amazon Author page with bio, links to your website (don’t have one? contact me!) and more, then follow instructions on this blog post to get your work publicized by Amazon in other countries

3) consider some of the steps taken by this author to exploit his online presence and boost sales via Amazon, which included a give-away (requires some conversion to a compatible ebook format)

4) here’s a pretty comprehensive list of “to do” for marketing, but I’d focus on #7 (build your email list) and #22 (blog strategically) because both are directed at building audience and, well, we all have to get some sleep sometime!

5) here’s an out-of-the-box idea: consider what Brian Koppelman does on Vine, which he calls 6-second screenwriting lessons. Can you adapt your message to a series of simple, self-created messages that will build audience? I mean, Koppelman’s directives are so straightforward that you find yourself watching one after another, as if you’re getting your secret agent mission for the day (even for those who aren’t aspiring screenwriters). Vine is simple and easy to upload to (for everyone with an iPhone). Add a link to your website or book on your Vine profile and get going. Promote through social media. Because everyone has 6 seconds.

4) personal experience and this source will tell you that building email lists is of vital importance. For example, I’m promoting a book very similar to The Fault in Our Stars, but it’s nonfiction, called Derek’s Gift. Yes, it’s a true story of a teen boy diagnosed with cancer and his girlfriend, who battles cancer after he dies. It’s heart wrenching, particularly reading Derek’s actual diary entry of his last year of life, his senior year of high school. I’ve posted that on Wattpad we’ve reached out to Derek’s friends, teachers and school administrators to get the book into the hands of students — because the coauthor is a teacher who uses Derek’s diary and supplemental information to reach teens navigating the choppy waters of young adulthood: the highs and lows of love and loss. We use the author’s email list to send out updates, sell the book at personal appearances and are networking with grief and bereavement specialists.

So unless you can get a high profile New Yorker writer to gush about you in her own repressed emo-girl way, we all have some work to do!

BookLife: a step forward for indie authors

Standard

Let’s not get into the semantics of what constitutes a “legitimate” book. We all know the current atmosphere for traditional publishing is tough: are they only making deals with celebrities who write children’s books, or with already-established authors? It certainly seems that if your name isn’t Rowling, your pitch to an agent isn’t going to be opened.

Then there’s the absolute explosion in indie-published books. I love the democratization of the process, but at the same time, so many good ones seem to be disappearing into the black hole of anonymity. How do you grow an audience without traditional reviews? Everyone who writes a book wants reviews from outlets like newspapers, but it’s tougher than you know. Newspapers have been shedding writers and losing editorial space for decades. So which books get the attention? Yes, those celebrity children’s books and others of their ilk.

Things are turning around, slowly. Kirkus offers paid reviews for indie books, and I know at least one author who thought the $425 was well worth it for the legitimacy it conveys (as well as the small bump in attention). And now Publishers Weekly has rolled out Book Life, an outlet for indie reviews that’s attached to a well-known industry publication. It also appears to be a way for them to make money off aspiring writers with a catalog of publishing services, but I can’t criticize that, because it appears they demystify the process with easy-to-understand steps for publishing and marketing.

These new outlets are great, but none will take the 4-letter-word “WORK” out of the process. Even the well-established author I work for busts his ass every week to self-promote. So don’t think for a minute that a “legitimate” review is a ticket to stardom of any sort.

Your checklist:

1) keep writing

2) post to your blog, Facebook page and LinkedIn

3) write articles for other publications based on your publishing experience, research, etc

4) make a list of media contacts and call a few every week (yes, CALL.. email is dead!)

5) collect emails and establish a regular newsletter