Pub Rants

Category: promotion

Calling All Denverites

Status: It was already in the 90s by 9 a.m. this morning. Poor Chutney was not happy with her walk in Central Park.


What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? SHE BOP by Cyndi Lauper


Even though I have a healthy ego in regards to my agenting, I really do think that this a once-in-a-career opportunity.


I found out this week that Jamie Ford’s Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet is in the running for One Book One Denver!


Always the last to know….


But I’m so excited at the possibility I can barely sleep. I really don’t know if I’ll ever have another book in the running (although one never knows what the future will bring)!


As many of you know, Jamie is not a Coloradoan but his wife is and her family still lives here. They visit Colorado often so even though he’s not a local author per se, he’s an honorary or sometimes local. Either way, he is a writer of the West.


So what is this blog post about? I need your help! The title is in the running but I need Denverites to vote.


Here’s how it works. You go to the voting website here. Of course they are going to want you to register (sorry about that!) because they are collecting info for Denver Events eMailing list. You can always unsubscribe later


Then you’ll see the three titles and I won’t mince words. The competition is tough. I personally enjoyed The Art Of Racing In The Rain and my book club is scheduled to read The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks in just a few short months. I’m not disparaging these titles at all but I still want HOTEL to win!!


It’s a little confusing on the site but voters are suppose to vote on each title by ranking them with the number of stars that applies to your rating of the work.


So, it’s not a matter of the book with the most votes win but the book with the most votes and the highest ranking of stars wins. I hope that makes sense…


If HOTEL does win, trust me, Jamie will be coming to town for a variety of One Book One Denver events. NLA will hold a party and all Denverites are invited!


The Art Of The Blurb Request

STATUS: I think I need more hours in the day.


What’s playing on the iPod or the XM radio right now? OBLIVIOUS by Aztec Camera

(haven’t heard this song in years!)

Most authors remember their humble beginnings and really do want to pay it forward by offering a blurb to a newer writer. They remember vividly what it’s like to be in those shoes! It’s part of the writer’s code.

Even with noble intentions, most writers who experience success end up having to put a moratorium on offering blurbs for a couple of reasons. It can be something as simple as receiving so many requests, it ends up not being physically possible. Sometimes it comes down to politics and the only way to be fair is to simply say NO to everyone that asks.

So just a couple of things to keep in mind if you are a writer requesting a blurb.

1. Make it personal. The blurb requests that are seriously considered come from authors who include a heartfelt note as to why they are making this request to this particular author. Trust me, it makes a difference.

2. Follow the established protocol if one is stated. Authors often publically say that requests must be channeled via the agent or editor (even if you have a personal connection to that successful author). If it’s not publically stated, always offer to go through the agent or editor if that is what the author preferred.

(The hardest part for successful authors is feeling guilty about turning down a request. Some opt to place a moratorium instead just to avoid the complications of feeling guilty or the difficulty of saying no. It’s a terribly awkward place to be in.)

3. If the response is a NO, be professional and gracious. Should go without saying but you’d be surprise at some of the responses received.

Some day (and hopefully soon), you just might be in those successful author shoes facing the dilemma: to blurb or not to blurb!

Because It’s Cool!

STATUS: Enjoyed a quiet day because of the Passover holiday. I caught up on a lot of emails.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? CUTS LIKE A KNIFE by Bryan Adams

If you have read HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, you’ll know that in the front matter of the book, there is a picture of a Japanese girl circa 1942. She’s wearing a tag on her jacket and it’s implied that she is leaving for the internment camps.

It’s a powerful picture.

The week before last, Jamie was doing a reading/signing at Woodland Reads. He discovered that the young girl in the photo is still alive and lived nearby. So he invited Mae Yanagi to come and be his special secret guest.

And she did! Okay, I got a shiver just looking at the pics so here they are.

She stuck around and signed books with Jamie for the whole evening. How cool is that?

Almost Famous?

STATUS: TGIF! I have to say that today’s news is a totally new experience for me.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? FAITHFULLY by Journey

OMG! I’m speechless.

And to quote Marie, “Is that my head in Times Square?????”

Uh…yep.

One Picture Really Can Say It All

STATUS: Today is MLK holiday! I’m only in for the morning and then heading out to do a nice hike as the weather is good here.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? VALENTINE by Kina Grannis

Hey readers. Sorry about the blog silence starting on Wednesday. I had to go out of town unexpectedly for a funeral and there really was not time to write. I actually didn’t even open my computer except on the plane ride to and from.

On a MUCH lighter note. Jamie Ford attended the Pulpwood Book Queens 11th Anniversary Girlfriend Weekend Author Extravaganza!

I pretty much think this picture says it all!

Jamie (on right) with Sam Barry of Rock Bottom Remainders

Need more great shots? Click here.

And if that costume wasn’t enough, we just found out on Friday that Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter and Sweet made the USA Today’s Best-selling Books: The top 100 for 2010 list.

Hotel came in at #84. Huge Congrats Jamie!

For that, I’d put on an Alice and Wonderland costume….

Advertising That Works?

Status: It’s the final sprint into the holidays. Goal? To finish everything. All client reads. All incoming submissions. All Royalty Statements. All end of year deals. And yes, we’ve got a lot going on in that realm.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU by Mariah Carey

Over a year ago, a friend of mine introduced me to Groupon for Denver, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I mean, how can you beat deals like a 90-minute massage for $29.00? That’s a steal no matter how you cut it. So I’ve been aware of this company for a while and have happily Grouponed many a great deal. Tonight, I was reading a Newsweek article on how this mode of advertising is really working. After all, it introduces subscribers to local companies that they might not have discovered otherwise and more importantly, if a subscriber buys the deal for the day, that person is committed to visiting that company or using that service in the very near future.

Smart.

But why do I bring this up in relation to publishing? Well, I was down in Santa Fe for the holidays and what pops up on my iPhone? The daily Groupon deal. This time, much to my surprise, it was a deal from Simon & Schuster. $40.00 worth of books for $20.00 from the S&S website.

Game on!

I would love to know how this Groupon worked for them. I’m also assuming that this Groupon hit several major cities—not just Denver. Someone is paying attention over there at S&S. Nicely done (although I imagine some independent booksellers might not be as enthusiastic to hear this).

My response? You can Groupon too! For Tattered Cover, that’s a groupon I would buy in a heartbeat and then send the link to all my Denver friends.

One City One Book—Broomfield Colorado

STATUS: Going on vaca for about 10 days. Blogging could be a little sporadic.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? PRAIRIE RAIN by Michael Stribling

Just a note to let any Colorado folks know that Jamie is going to be in town next Saturday. HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET is a One Book pick for the city of Broomfield.

He will be at the Broomfield Auditorium on November 6, 2010. The event starts at 7 p.m.

Jamie is also hosting a writer’s workshop earlier that day. I’m not sure if that seminar is already full but you can call 720.887.2350 to find out or email library@broomfield.org.

There is also a corresponding Bitter and Sweet Art Exhibition.

How cool is that? CU even did a Jazz evening featuring the music of Oscar Holden (who plays such a key role in the novel)

I cannot thank Mayor Pat Quinn enough for this terrific opportunity. If you live in town, we’d love to see you there!

Promo Going Gangbusters

STATUS: Pretty much this week has been taken up by a big auction unfolding. Hasn’t left much time for anything else.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TRIOLA by Tropfstein

Today’s topic is about cool promo and how it came about.

Since it has gone viral, you might have already seen this wildly popular video by the critically acclaimed web series The Guild. (They rose to fame last year with Do You Wanna Date My Avator). This year is no different as their fun music video has just knocked Katy Perry out of the top spot on iTunes. Check out the article.

So, first you need to watch the video.

Notice the book she’s reading? If you didn’t, go back and play the video from the start. Yep, that would be an NLA author’s book in that opening scene. It’s BEWITCHED AND BETRAYED–the latest release in Lisa Shearin’s Raine Benares series. As many of you probably already know from reading my blog, Felicia has been a long time Lisa fan. So when Felicia knew she’d be reading a book to start the music video, she immediately thought of Lisa and her books.

Well, how cool is that?

But just so you know, even something as fabulous as The Guild can’t just grab a book and use the image without permission in a professional video like this. They knew that too so they came to us right before filming. It was a bit of a mad scramble on short notice, but we were able to get the permission in place within 24 hours (so thank you Ace/Penguin for stepping up to the plate and getting it done!).

Because you can’t buy this type of promotion that gets this kind of internet play and it all begins with an author cultivating and being responsive to the fan base.

Communicate Before You Offer For Free

STATUS: Been reviewing a film contract which pretty much makes me cross-eyed by the end of the work day.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? OVER THE RAINBOW/WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Before you head off to post a free novel on your website, you might want to spend some time learning about the pros and cons of doing so.

In my opinion, yesterday’s post is probably most useful for writers looking to break in. If you are already traditionally published and have a publisher, this could be of value but you need a clear plan and the blessing of your publisher.

There are some contractual things you need to keep in mind before you post stuff for free or embrace Creative Commons or pursue other online experiments. Since the beginning of the year, author Cory Doctorow has been chronicling his experiences with free electronic books in Publishers Weekly.

If you haven’t had a chance to read his monthly columns, I think they are definitely worth a read. Here is a link to get you started. There’s no need for me to repeat what Cory says in his articles and so much more eloquently.

One of the things I want to highlight is that Cory is embarking on this documented journey with the full knowledge and support of his publisher Tor/Forge. As a published author, you have terms in your traditional publishing contracts that you must abide by. Posting things for free could get you in trouble. For example, a non-compete clause. Depending on how that’s worded and what the parameters are in your contract, uploading free material could be deemed a competing work with what your publisher is currently publishing for you. Or it might not.

My suggestion? Be sure to have full communication with your agent and your editor about your desire to explore these kinds of avenues. My guess is the publishers are keen to see what authors can do with creative endeavors but would be less enthusiastic if kept out of the loop.

An ISBN That Could Hurt

STATUS: Okay, still haven’t remembered the entry I had planned to do on Friday. How lame is that?

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? MANIC MONDAY by Finn Wallace

This weekend I was at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in Colorado Springs. I consider that one and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers to be my hometown conferences and so I almost always attend.

This year was perfect. Sara popped down on Saturday to take pitches all day (and she was hugely popular!) and I just got to have fun by teaching two workshops. On Sunday morning, I sat on a panel entitled Industry Changes with Scott Hoffman from Folio and Kathleen Gilligan from Thomas Dunne Books.

Since you can’t talk about industry changes without talking about electronic books these days, that pretty much dominated the conversation (and a lively one at that!).

One participant asked a particularly interesting question. She asked what the three of us thought about a writer putting an entire novel out on the web to build an audience.

I have a feeling that some of you might be interested in our response. I can’t speak for Scott or Kathleen but I’m happy to share some of my thoughts on the topic.

1. In general, I have no problem with writers giving out material for free to build a following. I’m a little bit leery about having an entire novel out there for everybody to read but it’s not going to destroy your chances of doing traditional publishing later. In fact, if you can track the number of downloads and can prove that thousands of people have voluntarily downloaded and read your novel, well, that just might be an interesting way to catch an editor’s attention. It would probably catch my attention. However, it would have to be verifiable—as in we can’t just take your word for it.

2. Another possibility is to have the writer serialize the work (as in only give portions of the work at a time to a subscription list) if intending to pursue traditional publishing later for that same work. That way the work in its entirety isn’t easily available online.

3. Along the same line of thought, a writer might put a novel out there that will always be available for free and use it to platform a totally different second novel that the writer plans to use to explore the more traditional publishing route.

The above discussion led (as you can imagine) into what we thought about self-publishing a work to build a similar audience. As self- publishing becomes more professional, accessible, and easy to manipulate, it certainly wouldn’t surprise us if writers were to explore this as a possibility.

Here’s something to keep in mind though (besides the fact that self published books need solid marketing efforts to succeed). Self-published books (through Lulu or similar) are assigned an ISBN—a sales identifier for that work. And here’s where the ISBN could hurt you. Once a book has an ISBN, then sales of that book can be tracked on Bookscan. If the books sell thousands and thousands of copies, not a problem but if the book sells only 20 copies, this could potentially make the road to traditional publishing more difficult. Editors often check Bookscan when considering previously published writers. Book Buyers at the major chains are looking at these numbers as well.

If the sales record is strong, no big deal; if it’s not, those low sales could create a roadblock unless the writer is willing to change his/her name to start with a clean slate.

I’m putting this out there because I imagine a lot of writers contemplating this route might not have considered the potential ISBN trap.