Thursday, April 29, 2010

Courage and the Writer....

How does a writer find the courage to keep going? 

That is the theme for this weeks post. Over the last week I have been thinking about the highs and lows of writing.

The lows. 
You look at some books that have been published and wonder how they got picked up and then you hear that the writer thinks ‘the work is wonderful and writing is easy and they’re going to publish another one of my stories.’ Meanwhile you struggle away researching, crafting strong plots and sentences, working hard on dialogue, submitting carefully, waiting for nine months... only to get a rejection.

The highs.
When the writing is flowing, the characters are real inside your head and you are just the medium to make them live. Your enthusiasm is high. Ideas are being bounced around your brain. Your writing buddies are just as inspired and the world is a sunny place.

The most successful authors I know summon up enormous courage and fortitude when they begin to plow through the long process of writing and promoting a new book. It amazes me how they do it but as a developmental editor working closely with writers for more than 40 years, I’ve learned what helps sustain such a Herculean effort.
Alan shares 11 tips to sustain the writer.
Tania Roxborogh shared a fabulous video with Elizabeth Gilbert the author of Eat Pray Love talking about the courage to write another book after Eat Pray Love was such a run away success. She talks about genius and how in ancient times it was seen as an external force but in recent times genius has become internalised and so we suffer.
Over On the Other Side of the manuscript, Agent Nathan Bransford has a series on his popular blog about being an agent for a day. He is stretching the day out to a week.
On Thursday we discussed the query process and whether or not queries adequately reflect a underlying work's quality. Can someone really make an assessment of a book project based on a query? Really really? Let's test it out.
Nathan solicited one days worth of queries from his readers. 150 responses. He used a random aggregator and selected five query letters which he put up on his blog. The next day he posted the pages that went with the queries. Each day the readers are asked to vote which one they would select. This is an interesting exercise and gives you a feel for what makes a query stand out. (its still going so check in to see what makes the cut.)
Continuing on the other side. James Bridle of Publishing Perspectives has a thought provoking post on Publishers and How they can learn fearlessness.
In the Penguincubator we see several desires converge: affordable books, non-traditional distribution, awareness of context, and a quiet radicalism. And it’s not a huge leap of the imagination to see how these apply now. I see the same bored gaze on the bus and tube today, as people reflexively flip open their phones and start poking at email or casual games, as Allen Lane saw on the platform at Exeter in 1933. And slowly — oh, so slowly — publishers are seeing that what we are presented with is not the death of everything we trust, value and hold dear, but a similar widening vista of opportunity to that which arrived with the mass-market paperback.
And back we go to the writer and the writing life.
As I was researching something else I came across the teaching author site. This is a group of six authors who teach writing in schools and workshops to children. As a large part of being a writer for children includes school visits, this is a great resource. These writers have put together a great blog which markets themselves and have extended it into the classroom to market their writing workshops.
I think in the future we will see more groups of writers banding together to market themselves collectively. As I am finding out in our collective author writing project - get a group of authors together and the energy ideas and enthusiasm of a shared project gives you wings.
This kind of networking among authors can only lead to a more positive environment for the writing community. I have noticed in my short time on Facebook that writers are using it very much like office people use their coffee break. Jumping in through the day to contribute jokes, advice and encouragement or shared anguish...the highs and lows of being a writer.
I have also noticed the blog comments have dried up because they are all commenting on Facebook...ah well.
Now in a link back to last weeks post...
Over On My Amplify Page
I have a link to,
An article about John Grisham’s first book for children.
Cory Doctorow on e-rights on your work.
An article about YA authors tweeting advice to their younger selves (what would you say to your 15yr old self?)
Do aliens exist-if so will they kill us? - advice from Stephen Hawking.
A very costly typo in a Penguin cookbook.
And a link to a mind meld cap the Pentagon want to use...
Finally a little video with some Pitching advice...because I was asked by an august writers association to give them advice on running a workshop on it...because of my involvement in the Spinning Gold conference last year...funny how doing such things spark ideas for other people... 


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Authors need to learn....

In the last few days I have been thinking about a New Yorker article that I found on Twitter and shared on Facebook. 
It is a wrap up of the last 30 days in publishing with the advent of the iPad-what it means for publishing and the future of publishing. This is a comprehensive well researched article that Authors should read. How will Apple, Amazon and Google divide up publishing and what will it mean for the Author...

My brother who designs and builds industrial robots commented to me last night ‘the way the technology is going why aren’t authors selling their own stuff?’ And he doesn’t know anything about the industry. On the other hand he markets his own work so it makes sense to him. He hadn’t read the New Yorker article either.

Out in blogosphere land these ideas are gaining traction. Tony Eldridge’s interview with Edwin Crozier about blogging your book which was posted a year ago is being retweeted all over the place as people think hang on maybe there is something in this.

With each segment they increase their desire to keep reading. Then they hit a wall that says "…to be continued, but not until next week." Just below that statement is a "Buy Now" button. Watch the mouse hover over the button. The debate is on. "Can I wait until next week? I don't want to spend the money and I can read this book for free. Oh, but I need to know what's next. But if I'm patient I'll find out next week. Yeah but then I'll have to wait another week for the section after that." CLICK. Someone just bought your book. 

As a writer, you should consider using podcasting and videocasting to promote your novel. Even Simon and Schuster said this was necessary. Here’s why.
First and foremost, people spend a lot of their time on the Internet which is already transportable. Even more, the future of the Internet is video. In fact, video search is growing in popularity at an astonishing speed.

These are just a few of the rumblings through the blogosphere as the reality of the changing face of publishing starts to be understood.

In the end marketing will be the most important thing that the author will have to learn...and you thought it was learning to write well or even finishing the work in progress.

Penny Sansevieri of Author Marketing Experts has put a comprehensive blog post together on online presence and using Social Media.

The quickest way to get noticed is by publishing quality work, the quickest way to get dismissed is by producing junk. Second, they want an author who knows his or her market and, if you’re connected to it online, all the better.

This is ringing true in my extended family. 
My mother in law has been told by her publishers that all of their authors must have an online social media presence. This is a big publishing company and mother in laws author level didn’t think they needed to do this as they are all well established best sellers with 100 books to their name. 
Yup. Company policy now. And the author has to maintain them. 

This is your business...just like a new is the most important thing that the author can learn.

Over on Craicerplus (my amplify page)
There is a link to,
Rowena Cherry and her post on 25 ways to buzz an author.
Penguins interactive Q-books with 'Oh Hogwash Sweetpea,' becoming one of the first picture books to be an iPod/iPad download in Maori, English and Spanish.
Lulu, e-publishing/self publishing behemoth moving to become a full service bookstore
and a link to a comprehensive article looking at the iPad from an author perspective from Author Tech Tips.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Venerable and the New...

This week the wonderful Beverley Cleary celebrated 94 years on this earth. 
In a School Library Journal Interview she reflected on her career and how she got started. (for those of you who need a little memory jogging...Ramona Quimby...Henry, Beezus, Ribsy, Ralph...)
When Beverly got started in 1950...books for kids were just moving out of the earnest educational tomes to teach the little savages into fun pacy romps that reflected the child’s world and were entertaining.

I wroteHenry Huggins (HarperCollins, 1950) because when I was a children’s librarian, there was almost nothing contemporary for boys. A little boy changed my life when he said, “Where are the books about kids like us?” All my books are still in print. 

Thanks Beverly for picking up your pen to fill the gap.

So 60 years into the future...this week the i-Pad launched and Publishers Weekly immediately picked up that 6 of the top 10 iPad apps downloaded were children’s books. This will be the game changer for children’s publishing. The most popular of the apps downloaded were picture books!

On launch day last Saturday, Apple sold more than 300,000 iPads—and users downloaded more than one million apps and more than 250,000 ebooks from the iBookstore. Parents immediately started snapping up picture book apps from Apple's online store. In fact, children's stories held six of the top 10 paid iPad book-app sales spots as of press time. Typical prices for children's book apps range anywhere from $2.99 for The Cat in the Hat to $9.99 for Miss Spider's Tea Party.

Here is a little video showing how Alice looks on the iPad.

On the marketing front Thomas McMahon of Online Marketing Blog has a great post on how to promote new blogs which can be used for other social media sites.

Darcy Pattison has a brilliant post on ten social media goals for author promotion here is number three...(It was hard to choose which one to give you a taster they are all so good.)

Long-term relationships versus short-term profits
This is an easy one for authors. We want long-term relationships with people who are interested in the stories we write, the passions that fill our days and our books. Those relationships may result in sales; but we also care about deep conversations about our passions, speaking engagements, connecting with kids, learning more about our craft and so on. Relationships – YOU – are important to me!

There is a UK website Smories offering a chance to authors to send in their up to 750 word stories for selection to be filmed and made into a downloadable app...The top five voted on by kids win substantial money and you keep all the rights. Open to submission by email from all English speaking countries.

Over at Casey McCormicks blog there is a big discussion about YA needing a love interest...and how much of a love interest should there be? and What about Boys YA? Do they care? Will they be turned off or on....Lots of comments and juicy discussion.

Over on Craicerplus (my amplify page.)

There is a link to an article on Wuthering Heights and the Twilight effect.
There is a link to brilliant (must read) article on pitching from Alan Rinzler.
And a link to an article on BlogTalkRadio. How to turn your blog into a radio station for free.

So reflecting on the last 60 years and looking forward to the next 60 years in children’s publishing...
Anyone got any thoughts as to what the child’s book will look like then?


P.S. Last week was my two year blogging anniversary....who’d a thought...Cheers Fifi.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Using Twitter

Today is Twitter Thursday. Yes this blog post has Twitter as the main theme. 
I was sceptical about Twitter but I am beginning to change my mind. If you regard Twitter as a tool and use it as such then it can be a very useful tool in the marketing tool box.

I use Twitter to find information to share with you...tricky huh. I follow leaders in the fields that I am interested in. They tweet their blog post titles and if I see anything of interest I go and have a look.

My own blog posts get posted to Twitter for my followers. Anything that goes up on my Amplify page also gets posted to Twitter.

I don’t use Twitter to talk about myself or what I’m doing...I find Twitter streams on professional sites can be full of silly minutiae of some people’s lives and that detracts from the professional image that these sites want to portray. If you have a personal blog then it is appropriate to put a twitter stream in there.

So from the Twitter feed today....

Tony Eldridge of Blogmarketing tips for authors has an interview with Melissa Giovagnoli where she shares 3 internet marketing tips. and it is no surprise that Melissa mentions Twitter and what you can do with it.

Margaret Atwood is a fan of Twitter and she recently wrote a very funny article for the Guardian newspaper about how she came to be involved...of course there are a few digs at her publishers on why she chose to do her own website. Margaret is all about communication.

So what's it all about, this Twitter? Is it signalling, like telegraphs? Is it Zen poetry? Is it jokes scribbled on the washroom wall? Is it John Hearts Mary carved on a tree? Let's just say it's communication, and communication is something human beings like to do.

Gail Carson Levine author of numerous best selling children’s books has a great  blog which I pop in to from time to time...this week she is looking at ideas and where they come from if you are stuck.
I found this a great read and very pertinent to me as I am writing a chapter for a fun project that several writers are involved with...It is just early stages but the possibilities of sending characters on a wild goose chase and also authors as they have to follow on in their own chapters is irresistible and Gail’s blog post fits right into this spirit.

People have built on stories forever. Shakespeare did it. The playwright George Bernard Shaw did it. I do it (to put myself in exalted company) when I adapt fairy tales for my own use.

Over on my Amplify page there is a link to an article about using book trailers to grab agents attention.
A link to a report on a Publishers Weekly panel where they looked at what teens are reading now...fat vampires?
And a link to a comprehensive article on the recent Bologna book fair - what publishers want and what is selling.

Spinning Gold News...Adele Broadbent is launching her book (which was picked up at the Spinning Gold conference) next month.
Tonight Mandy Hager, who launched her first book in her trilogy, The Crossing, at Spinning Gold, launches the second book at The Children’s Book Shop Kilbirnie Wellington.

And in pure gossip Spinning Gold number 2 may be held in Auckland...

Just finally Justine Larbalesteir is having a moment about why reviewers are saying a book obviously set in NZ is Australian and rightly so...the comments are interesting and thought favourite was the comment that had one poor US citizen confused -isn’t New Zealand Middle Earth ?

pic is alien twitter bird...yes i know geek strikes again

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Amplifying into the future...

Blogging demands commitment and so I trawl the web searching for interesting information for my weekly post. (well that's my excuse)

Often I find lots of interesting stuff which is not directly related to the topic of Author Marketing. So what to do...? I could make my blog articles longer....No (they are way to long already.)

 I could post more than once a week. No (because I have a computer addicted personality and I would never get any writing done if I gave myself any more permission ‘to research.’ )

Follow what I'm reading on Amplify

Amplify to the rescue. In my sidebar you will see the amplify button. This will take you to a cunning page that I have set up called CRAICERPLUS. 
On this page are comments and links to sites and articles of interest to writers and publishers. There are links to futurists Mike Shatzkin and Guy Gonzales who have both posted interesting blog posts on future change in publishing. 
On CRAICERPLUS you can comment on what you’re reading back to me if you like.

So what made it to the Blog today.

Bologna, ah Bologna...Oh don’t I wish I was there....however Agent Kristin of the very popular Pub Rants blog is and she is letting her readers know about the latest trends there. Midgrade is making a comeback...yippee coz I love midgrade and that’s what I write. And werewolves and vampires are mostly over.

David Meerman Scott is writing about Brand Journalism...Companies need Journalists or Writers to mange the content of their online business. This cannot be left to IT departments. He has written an open letter to Journalists to tell them about the new opportunities he sees.

You don't need to compromise your integrity. You still tell stories. You still practice your craft. You still have followers who care about what you do. You still change people's lives.

The Huffington Post has a very popular post on the eleven most surprising banned books...Judy Blumes, Are You There God? is on it.  I can’t for the life of me think what is so bad about that book....

Justine Labalesteir has a great post on teenagers and reading...Yes they are and No don’t get worried...

But even if we could reach a consensus on good writing—so what if a teen is only reading books you consider appalling? Plenty of adults are doing ditto. The pleasures of bad books are many. The pleasures of reading a book your parents don’t want you to read are even greater.

Have a great Easter...

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