Pub Rants

Category: publicity

When I was at the Writers Digest conference earlier this year, I listened to a panel on how indie self-publishers creatively promote. All the folks in the audience were taking copious notes and invariably they asked, “what works in terms of promotion.” They wanted the magic bullet so if they did that, the work would get noticed.

The panel members answered by giving some examples but they cautioned that no one in the audience could use the same promotional approach because it had been done before; now it’s too late to do it again. It won’t have the same impact. To stand out, folks have to be creative and come out with the next big thing that hasn’t been done before.

Like that’s easy.

But it’s so true. Remember when the book trailer was something crazy new and inventive? Now they are so common, it’s all just noise to readers (although they are super fun and I still like for my clients to have them).

Simone Elkeles ran her own company when she was in her mid-twenties. It forced her to think out of the box and be super creative with all the marketing. And I have to say that when she’s releasing a new series, she brainstorms for what will really go viral.

Now I’m not suggesting that everyone spend the budget Simone does for her promotion but what just-about-to-be-published writers need to do is analyze what they like and what is fun for them to do and see if that can’t be turned into an interesting or unique promo opportunity.

if you have a passion that will show through. And nothing exemplifies this more than the Reality TV Episodes Simone created for her brand new Wild Cards series. You can just tell that Simone loved putting this together. Check it out for yourself!

 

 

Or catch it on Youtube:

Wild Cards – Episode One

But only for you readers who are smart enough to grab the hardcover of SCORCHED when it hits the shelves on September 2.

Hidden DragonCover

 

 

And, I have a cool pre-order special if you’ve been thinking of doing just that!

In the changing landscape of publishing, it’s all about pre-orders these days. The actual sales racked up before release day can seriously make a difference on whether a book will land on the NYT or USA Today list or not. So publishers are getting creative in tempting readers to buy early. And sourcebooks is going all out for SCORCHED.

A Gift for You, for Pre-Ordering SCORCHED by Mari Mancusi

We have a special offer for U.S. and Canada YA fans for the release of SCORCHED by Mari Mancusi in stores in a little over three weeks! If you pre-order the book, we will send you an exclusive dragon charm—perfect to wear as jewelry or to decorate an accessory. You have until September 2 or until quantities run out.

DragonCharm

Here’s how to get your charm:
1. Pre-order the book (print or eBook) through any retailer (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, your local independent bookseller/Indiebound, Books-A-Million, Hastings, etc.)

2. Email your proof of purchase (receipt or picture of the receipt) to [email protected]. Put “Scorched Pre-Order” in the subject line. Don’t forget to include your home address (US & Canada only please) so we can send you the dragon charm! If you’ve already pre-ordered this book—not a problem! Send us your receipt!

3. You will get an email back confirming when the items have been sent out.

4. Enjoy Scorched when it comes out in September!

Optional: take a pic of you and your dragon charm and share it with Mari Mancusi or Sourcebooks Fire on Twitter! You can find Mari @marimancusi and Sourcebooks Fire @sourcebooksfire.

With over half a million ebooks sold, Slate.com and The Wall Street journal dub this originally self-published post-apocalyptic thriller  “the next Hunger Games” mega hit.

And Nelson Literary Agency invites you to a Book Launch Party for Hugh Howey’s WOOL!

FRIDAY, March 15, 2013

7:30 PM

The Tattered Cover

2526 E. Colfax, Denver, CO 80206

Event info

After the signing, hang out with Hugh and the gals of NLA for beer and conversations at

 The Three Lions Pub 

2239 E. Colfax, Denver, CO 80206–a short walk away

Appetizers will be provided. Cash bar.

Please RSVP!  [email protected]

UK_WOOL_cover

New Website Going Live On Nov. 12 or Nov. 19

STATUS: I’ll be a much saner person then. Hey, I’m an optimist!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now?  YOU by Bonnie Raitt

Thanks for all the comments and feedback on FB versus blogging. Quite frankly, I had been sensing that blogging in general was becoming a bit passé. But it sounds like there is still a lot of interest in educational posts being delivered through the longer blog medium. Well, I hear you. I’m still debating on how practical it will be given my overwhelming workload. It’s much easier to throw up some insightful posts on Facebook. But I also get that a lot of folks aren’t on FB and have no interest in joining. And to be honest, I’m too verbose for twitter. *grin*

When I think of our new redesigned website going live, I start bouncing in my seat. It’s amazing. But it’s also good fodder for a blog entry.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned and some tips to share:

1) If you haven’t updated your website in the last 3 to 5 years, it’s time to take a look at your site and evaluate its effectiveness. I know from our site, it wasn’t highlighting all the different ways folks could learn or follow us via social media. Given how much has changed in the last couple years, our site was looking tired, old, and dated. None of that stuff was linked together. That’s not effective.

As an author, you can’t afford for fans to think the same of your site. They expect more. Is it fair, no, but there you have it.

2) Big question you must answer: who is your audience and what do you want them to learn from the site? The answer might be simple and then evolve into something more complex. For example, a simple answer for our site is this: our audience is writers looking for representation who might be interested in our agency.

So our site has to answer some basic questions – like how to submit to us, etc.  Well, that’s obvious.

But our site shouldn’t stop there. Writers who look at our website might also be enthusiastic readers (or at least I hope so!). So our site should also be a non-obtrusive advertisement for our client books in the sense that visitors to our site might also want to buy the books they stumble upon there.

Of course we “knew” that for our original site but we were not exploring the full potential there. The new site is going to be great for that without us coming across as used car sales people (or at least I hope that’s the case!).

So how does this apply to you as a writer? Well, I see any number of writer sites that don’t really answer this question well. How does it appeal to folks who are already fans of your work and then how might it rope in the possible new fan? I honestly don’t see writers doing a lot for that second question. If you’ve seen some good sites that handle it well, include the links in the comments. We can use those examples as learning tools.

3) For our new site, we are adding a “how they came to us” under each client so aspiring writers can literally see who sent us a query (and we found them that way) versus who was a referral or a current client recommend. I imagine including stories like this will keep visitors engaged in our site and may be motivated to click around more and spend more time with us.

As a writer, what have you got that might create that for your visitors? I see so many writer sites that tend to be a plug for the book or books and not much else. If that’s the case for your website, it’s not doing the right job for you.

4) Clean design – I’m a huge proponent of this. I see so many wordpress websites that have good intentions but as a visitor, I’m completely overwhelmed by the amount of links, buttons, images, or what have you. It may just be me but I can actually feel my heart rate speeding up when I’m confronted with too much info on a web page. It’s stressful.

So I can’t wait to show you the new site. And yes, I’m getting back to blogging even though that means more entries to migrate over to the new site. I pity our web designer.

The Concern Is Perhaps Premature

STATUS: All my Texas blog readers, Kristin Callihan’s FIRELIGHT is going to be included in the romance round-up on Good Morning Texas tomorrow, Wed. May 2. Station WFAA-TV channel 8. It’s the ABC affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth. How cool is that. I wish I could tune in.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DOMINO DANCING by Pet Shop Boys

When I was at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference last week, I had a writer rush up to me in a panic to ask a question. She was incredibly worried that she had not established her social media platform for her novel yet.

If her release date was in 4 weeks, then I would say she had cause to panic.

But given that she hadn’t actually finished writing her work-in-progress (let alone begin querying for her agent search), I found her concern a little premature.

*grin*

I advised her that at this point in her professional career, she should focus on writing the best novel she possibly could. Plenty of time to get the social media cranking while it’s on submission. I personally don’t know any agent who would say no to an author for a project they love just because the publicity platform isn’t there yet.

I can build that with an author. I imagine most agents feel the same.

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.

Publicists Help Those Who Help Themselves

STATUS: I’ve actually been spending my time negotiating some new deals for current clients. Hey, that’s always good.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHAT WOULD YOU SAY by Dave Matthews Band

An often quoted adage (that’s not actually in the Bible) with one little word change to make it apply to what I want to talk about today.

If you are a published author, one of the smartest things you can do when it comes to marketing and promotion is to be a squeaky wheel without the annoying squeak.

In other words, how can you politely keep yourself on the publicist’s radar without coming across as disappointed, demanding, or annoying?

One thing Lindsay and I have been working on with our clients is our weekly or bi-monthly reports of what the author is doing to promote their recent release.

It’s a great way to constantly be having a dialogue with the in-house publicist. All the publicists we’ve worked with have been really appreciative. It allows them to talk about the author in the next meeting, maybe even spotlight something cool the author has done, and it often helps the publicist make requests on the author’s behalf.

So take a moment to think about the last time you sent your in-house person a lovely report on all the amazing blog appearances, local signings, conference events, etc. you’ve been doing?

Never too late if you have some nice summaries to share—even if your book isn’t a new release.

This is just part of the reason that together, Mari and I were able to revive interest in her Blood Coven series and get that fourth book under contract. We constantly kept Berkley in the loop on all the things Mari was doing for those books.

Not All Publicity Is Good Publicity

STATUS: The dog days of August. I handled over a 100 emails and got caught up. I concluded a film deal (won’t be able to announce for a bit so sorry) and did a phone conference about a contract as just a tad bit of what I did today.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? STAY (I MISSED YOU) by Lisa Loeb

I know you’ve heard the saying that all publicity is good publicity. Well, I can certainly think of a few instances where that might not be the case and when I saw this article about an author who made the news because she shot her father in the rear end, I thought to myself that there really couldn’t be a better of example that I could offer of this.

Especially since the author describes her writing as redneck noir. Suitably apt? So maybe the lesson here is think before you shoot?

How To Get Money Out Of A Publisher

STATUS: It’s been a really frustrating week. It’s already after 5 and stuff that has to be done, I’m only starting on.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? OLD APARTMENT by Barenaked Ladies

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to get money from Publishers for promotion—even if you aren’t the lead title or the next big blockbuster book for them.

It’s all in the way that you do it and your expectation. It’s not going to be thousands and thousands of dollars but it may still make a difference for your launch. So how do you go about getting it?

1. Have a clear marketing and promotion plan for the launch for your book. And I’m talking a real plan, not pie in the sky stuff. Things you can actually do, blog tours you already have lined up, speaking events that you will be at. If you haven’t got that in place, you’re not getting any money. When you have that in place, you need to share it with your in-house contact or you’re not going to be able to get money.

2. Choose a promotional element that has the most likelihood of getting funded because you can aptly demonstrate how the publisher will get bang for their buck. In other words, you have clearly outlined goals for the event, how you can make a difference reaching booksellers, or have a workshop or speaking event already lined up if the publisher can just get you there.

3. Have clear expectation of what they a publisher will and will not pay for. For example, let’s say you have some cool media and speaking events already lined up at ALA (American Library Association) as you planned to be there anyway. Then go to your editor and say, hey, look what I’ve got going here. Would the Publisher be willing to pay my way for airfare and hotel? If you can show a reasonable benefit, I find that editors have been pretty open finding some money for you. (Let’s say you are doing events close to home, you do the driving and that cost and see if they’ll pay for hotel. Make it a partnerhsip.)

4. Here’s another good example. I have one author who does a lot of speaking at various events and sites. These speaking engagements are being paid for by the people hosting the event (publishers love that!). Great. But what about some promo materials to be at those events? We’ve gotten publishers to pay for excerpt booklets, bookmarks, special give-aways, promo posters to have there, etc.

5. Here’s another great way to get money out of the publisher. Show them exactly what you have budgeted from your own money for promotion. Publishers are more likely to give money to authors who are clearly working it from their end. Even if they don’t pony up ths time around, they might be willing to partner on promo expense for the next book. They might even pick up the tab for a book trailer.

6. Show that you are media savvy and can handle whatever is thrown at you. Collect interviews and share them with your editor and in-house contact person. Publishers are more willing to put together a publisher-paid tour for you or maybe even a call-in radio tour (which doesn’t cost them money but does take a lot of time for a publicist to set up), if they know you’ll make the most out of those opportunities.

These are just a few things. Tons more out there if you’re creative, savvy. Find out what works and what doesn’t.

And don’t assume that these kinds of things are just for the biggest sellers. I’ve gotten many different kinds paid promotion stuff for solidly mid-list authors or even debuts that weren’t lead titles etc.

The last thing you need to remember is this: You can’t get what you don’t ask for.”

What’s the worst they can say? No. You can probably live with that.

Why We Have A Marketing Director

STATUS: Heading out for the night but plan to do some much needed client reading in the next couple of nights. Hubby is out of town. Amazing how much more work gets done when that happens.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SUNDAY MORNING by Maroon 5

Early this year, I realized I was spending in ordinate amount of time talking with editors and in-house marketing and publicity people about my clients’ upcoming releases.

In fact, I was spending so much time doing that, I started wondering when I would have the time to read new material and take on new clients. After all, I’m an agent, not a marketing coordinator.

And that’s why this past March, I hired Lindsay Mergens to be out Marketing Director here at NLA.

Here’s a link to her bio so you can see what a great background she has for this job. However, being a Marketing Director for an agency is not the same as this corresponding title in a Publishing house. What exactly would she be doing? Would she be duplicating Publisher effort by actually doing marketing and publicity? Nope, that’s not what Lindsay does.

So here’s what she does—think of it more like coordinating.

1. Tracking all upcoming releases and doing a timeline of what is being done in-house and when we need to be following up with the author’s assigned publicist about the marketing plan.

2. She works on the marketing plan with all our authors so they have something to say other than “I don’t know what I’m doing with this.” All authors know more than they think they do. She adds these things to the Publisher’s plan and helps to tweak what will be done.

3. Sometimes she gets money out of the Publishers for an author visit that they might not have done otherwise if we hadn’t simply requested it.

4. She is the liaison for the in-house publicist and marketing person assigned to the author.

5. If the author would like to hire an external PR company as well, Lindsay hooks the author up with the right people. She also reviews any PR proposals that an external company might present.

6. She attends meetings with me in New York when we are meeting with the Publishing marketing and publicity people. As she used to be one, she knows exactly what to ask.

7. When the marketing plan is formed and finalized, Lindsay is the point person to see that all things get implemented and that all the info is disseminated to me, to the author, rights co-agents, etc.

8. She helps authors fill out the client Author Questionnaire (which can be a huge deal as that is often the in-house template that will be worked from).

9. When folks contact us about having one of our authors come and speak, Lindsay handles that and coordinates with the publisher,

10. Book Trailers. Marketing Materials and so forth, Lindsay reviews it all, requests changes if necessary or generally helps guide this whole process.

11. Book tours abroad. Lindsay handles it and coordinates with US publisher.

This list could go on and on. In fact, I’m probably leaving out tons of stuff but this should give you an idea of why I would hire someone to do this for the Agency. As the main agent, I’m cc’d on all communications but honestly, I’m not sure how I did without her for so long. It’s a job in and of itself.