Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's A Dirty Job But Someone Has To Do It...

This week I have been contemplating promotion. 
Not for myself, but as an idea. It didn’t matter what I was doing, sooner or later some aspect of promotion ideology flitted through my brain because of a comment or an article or a question...It was everywhere.

The launch of the Fabo Story project...How do we promote it to kids?

The Wellington Children’s Book Association  AGM and panel event on Heroes...How do we promote it to the public?

Every good twitter link coming at me seemed to be on Promotion.

Then I got an email implying that we must have has PR and promotion experience to put on our very successful conference for children’s writers and Illustrators last year.
Actually No, however I did check out every book in the library to do with planning events and business management. This was an attempt to learn as much as I could about how we could get the word out and give the best conference we could, to people who were trusting us with their hard earned cash.

Promotion is part of being in business and business is what you are in if you are a writer.

Promotion is not a dirty word. It is a necessary word. 
You want an editor to look at your work so you must promote yourself as being professional, by writing the best story, presenting it well...clean pages, typeset, spell checked...
You want people to read your book...Telling readers about it, getting your name known, your author visits etc are all promotion for you.

Yvonne Perry of Online Promotion Made Easy has a good article to help you get started with building an author platform including a great set of links to overview articles.

Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn site has pulled together all the articles she has done over the year into one comprehensive links page on marketing. She covers everything from platform to podcasting.  She is a one woman university on the subject.

The Intern has five thoughts on book promotion, after her experience on a book tour. She is funny, ascerbic and thoughtful.  Her commentators agree that she is driving them crazy staying anonymous when she has a book to promote...Which does seem like the opposite of what she should be doing but you need to check out the blog to find out why....

Has anyone recently told you how brave you are?
Probably not. The writing life doesn’t come off as requiring courage. In a normal day’s work, the worst danger you’re likely to face is a paper cut.
But if you’re a writer – if you’re taking ideas out of your head and turning them into words – then you’re sure as hell brave. Don’t forget that. Never let anyone convince you that what you do is easy or not a real job or even safe.
And that is just the beginning....

Elana Johnson stopped by on the blog this morning to comment on my shout out to the WriteOnCon team. I am in awe of their vision to create a conference for Children’s Writers around the world to participate in for free. What she didn’t know was that I planned to link to an interview with her fellow team member Jamie Harrington about how the conference came about. 

As you can stay at home and attend this awesome conference it is timely to look at the whole working from home thing. The workawesome site has 16 tips to boost your productivity if you work from home.

Over on Craicerplus (my Amplify page) I have articles on

5 Book Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

7 Reasons Why You Are Time Poor...(mea culpa)

How To Self Publish An E Book (This is so comprehensive....print it out)

5 Rules For Writing Y A

A brilliant article from Nathan Bransford on The One Question Writers Should Never Ask Themselves

How One Author Is Using Scribd To Find Readers

I noticed a few weeks ago that I had a large spike in my readers...when I did some investigation I found my blog had been mentioned by a family member on a discussion board for young mothers.  
The promotion was nice and unexpected and as I have tried to reward my blog promoters with a video just for them... I racked my brains to come up with something suitable....

And in shameless self promotion I entered myself in the Net Guide Web Awards for best New Zealand blog on a that’s one voting closes tomorrow (Friday 30th) I am expecting that there will only be one vote....snigger.... 


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dirty Words - Challenge and Change

There are lots of interesting things to talk about this week. As I am looking at the list in front of me the common theme seems to be Change.

Change can be a scary word, a dirty word, a depressing word. It can also be an energising word.
Change can challenge you to overcome an obstacle. Change can see you treading a path you never thought you would take.

If you are a regular reader...(waves to the followers) you will  see that I often take a look at what commentators are saying about the publishing industry. After all we are all struggling for the prize of publication whether it’s our first or our 50th book, nothing these days is guaranteed. It is wise to keep one eye on what the industry is facing so we can change our focus if we need to.

This week Seth Godin posted a link to a talk he gave to the American Independent Publishers Association. It is a worthwhile listen. There are some interesting ideas in the talk to think about for writers as well as publishers. Seth’s main message is cultivating your tribe and standing for an idea. He sees publisher survival as only happening when you harness the long tail and the niche in a specific area. Mike Shatzkin, as I have previously referred to, also believes this. Seth in his talk compares the recording industry changes and what might happen if the publishing industry gets it right. It is a longish talk so clear the decks and grab a coffee to get the full benefit.
I have already heard back from two independent publishers whom I sent this link on to who were very interested in the ideas Seth is talking about.

Changing the way you think about publishing is another challenge. In this fast moving digital world everybody can be a publisher. I am a publisher of this blog. Publishing is not restricted to paper and ink. One writer who looked at publishing in a new way is Neil Ayres. He looked at the iphone decided he could publish his book on it and then set about creating an iphone  application that did just that. He became a publisher in new media....and the story he tells about how he did it is a worthwhile read. After all the biggest downloads for the ipad are children’s books. You don’t know where a new path might take you. Publishers weekly have an article on the Digital Revolution and Children’s Publishing.

Cory is well known for giving his books away for free as podcasts. These books, when they get published in paper and ink, then go on to be best sellers. Cory is experimenting with producing his books in a variety of FREE formats and looking at how much he will earn from them. He started the experiment about 10 months ago.
I can see you shaking your head now...but guess what... he does earn money. In his latest column he talks about the experiment and how successful it has been so far.

Muriel Lede of Self Publishing Review has listed a comprehensive list of links to think about for your web presence. I think it is now an accepted fact that if you are an author pre published or published you should have a website. This week I talked to a good friend, who is multi published, about how easy it was to set up a website/blog.  It is getting even easier to establish an effective web presence as Muriel explains. My friend has admitted that fear of the unknown has held her back...I promised to hold her hand as she embraces the challenge of change.

Challenging yourself to change can be very empowering. Last year we put together an inspirational conference (Spinning Gold) for Children’s Writers and Illustrators with the goals of upskilling ourselves and our colleagues. We have watched with interest, in the 10 months since then, the new authors who were picked up from the conference and the new websites appearing from established writers and illustrators who learned about the change in the publishing industry at the conference. We knew from the outset that committing to attending a conference was a huge ask in our low paid industry.

This is true wherever in the world you are. 

A few weeks ago I sent you to look at a video about an online conference just for Children’s writers. The conference WriteOnCon is open for registrations and boy has it taken off with registrations from around the world. A look at the presenters (agents, editors, writers) will show you that this is a top quality opportunity. AND IT IS FREE!  Jane Friedman has recently posted an article on why it is essential  that writers attend  conferences.  If you have the opportunity, attend WriteOn Con.  As it is online, in the evening for us, take it!

The Enchanted Inkpot, a group of Mid Grade and Y A fantasy Children’s writers, have an interesting post that has generated lots of comment. The Y A  Section of the bookstore is geared towards girls. Where are the Y A books for boys?
Do we need to change our focus so that we capture boy readers, after all they are demographic  everybody is worried about.....are publishers disenfranchising these readers by their choice of covers? Lots of ideas and opinions in the comments thread.

Over the last few years on this blog, I have explored the nature of groups like The Enchanted Inkpot as a marketing tool for the writers involved. As far as I can see there are only benefits from this type of group effort. I am having a direct experience of this as part of the FABO story project.

Nine New Zealand Children’s Writers have come together to write a group Junior Fiction novel. We are challenging ourselves to be creative as we each take a chapter, following no written plot and letting our imagination run amok. But we are also asking New Zealand Children to write their own chapter in response to ours. Each week a new chapter is being posted on to the FaBo Story website. All the writers are energised by this project. The ideas, the jokes and collective imaginings of the team inspire us and spur us on. The project launched yesterday and already we have had interested schools contacting us to take part. This of course energises and challenges us even more.

As we were putting the idea together, I was interviewed by blogger Alison Stevens about Creativity. Alison posted that interview yesterday in honour of the launch of the Fabo story project. (so it has international interest...)

Over on Craicerplus (my amplify page) There are links to articles

Author Michael Morpurgo Welcomes Book Technology

6 Personality Types who Will Succeed  As Writers

How To Protect Your Intellectual Property On Line

On Christian Fantasy- More Than Tolkein And Lewis

Pitching –What They Want To Hear

I write my blog posts like Cory own writing like Stephanie least she is a good storyteller- if she wasn’t, would a love triangle involving a wet heroine, a vampire and a werewolf ever have taken off? 



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Memorable ideas

We came back from holiday late on Tuesday and I opened my in box on Wednesday and it spilleth over with emails...
It is funny when you take a break from the internet. You might be going through minor withdrawal symptoms...but it is not! Working my way through the inbox has taken a few hours and I don’t get anywhere near the amount my husband gets at work on a daily basis. Needless to say he is not looking forward to opening up his inbox when he gets back.

The holiday had some memorable moments...
The major car breakdown on the way up the country. Ending up in a motel which did not have chocolates on the pillows...(Mum! Fifi Colston said in her book, Glory, that motels have chocolates on the pillows...Thanks Fi! Beer and chips are Taihape’s chocolates...not the same!)
Seeing the whole family altogether (first time in 6 years and very new niece)
Having coffee with Melinda Szymanik. This was interesting as Melinda and I know each other primarily through blogging. At Spinning Gold I talked with her for about 30 seconds and wished ever after that I had had more time...(actually I wished that all the time at Spinning Gold, not enough hours in the day...) Melinda is as engaging in person as she is on her blog.
The snowball fight on the desert road on the way back down country. The impossible perfectness of the weather and the scenery, blue, blue sky, warm sun and snow right to the bottom of Ruapehu.

Enough rambling, onto the blog post for the week.

Last night I had the privilege of attending the Fifth birthday of Gecko Press. Julia Marshall has done wonders with her crazy idea of starting a publishing company with no money and one book about two geriatric donkeys with relationship problems written in German. John McIntyre beautifully illustrated his speech about Gecko’s five years in successful business with the plot lines of Julia’s publishing triumphs.

A couple of times I have linked to posts by Mike Shatzkin on where he feels the future of publishing lies. As a publishing futurist who doesn’t pull his punches, Mike is a widely followed commentator on the industry. His message of niche will survive over chain is an important one in children’s publishing.  Children’s publishers and the independent children’s bookstores are the best placed to follow up on his advice. John and Ruth McIntyre of The Children’s Bookshop and Julia Marshall of Gecko Press are doing all the right things according to Mike.

This week Mike posted an article on the future of the brick and mortar store as it applies to ebooks, which has had over a hundred comments, including many from children’s bookstore owners and publishers. It is well worth a read.

Stroppy Author has a no nonsense article up on her blog today. The publishing world has changed...get over it!

The L A Times has posted a fabulous article about Janet Fitches 10 Rules for writers. This is great advice. 10 pithy rules that will sharpen up your writing and your attitude, (I like number 10 even tho I have a hard time doing it...I may be too nice....)

 On Marketing

Hope Clarke has reprinted Chris Brogan’s should do social media list if you are an author. It is good to have a look down it and see how you are doing and maybe jog some ideas loose about things you could do.

Harold Underdown one of the leading lights in American Children’s publishing is doing something new in Social Media. He is tweeting parts of the 3rd Edition of his book The Complete Idiots Guide to Publishing Children’s Books. Greg Pincus interviews Harold about the ongoing project.

Often I come across marketing strategies that are just perfect for the non fiction writer. Some can be adapted for the fiction writer, even fewer for the children’s writer. Today I found a great article on what one fiction writer did to market her book by Author Marketing Experts, who have some great ideas about getting noticed.

Our FaBo project is also getting noticed which is gratifying. The general comments from teachers seem to be 'what a great idea...'
It all starts next week...We’re nearly ready! We have some great prizes and giveaways lined up....oooooooooh.

Over on Craicerplus (my Amplify page) I have articles on

The Art Of Query Wars...(the rules of engagement)

Nathan Bransford - You Tell Me Why Is It So Hard To Tell If Our Writing Is Any Good?

Rachelle Gardener-How Do Agents And Publishers Make Decisions (what you always wanted to know)

Twitters #dearpublisher  hashtag takes off...(a very interesting idea)

 I am a sucker for creativity sites and I found one today listing five sites that are tops in sparking creativity. After all I have to get in training for the FaBo project. Only 1 week to go....


Gecko Press have put together a cute little video about themselves...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Looking Into The Mad Crazy Fun Future

We can go public now…
A team of New Zealand Children’s writers have got together to do a mad thing… Write a story…
Not so mad you think?
Well how about having no idea of the plot and having only one week to follow up another writers chapter in public…hmmmm
Now add a friendly competition involving New Zealand kids also writing a follow up chapter along side the writers.
Yup… Mad… Crazy…FUN.

The FaBo Story project is underway. The first chapter gets posted on the Fabo Story website in the middle of the first week of term and then it’s Game On!
(and yes if you scroll to the bottom you will find some familiar names heheheheh)

So while I’m away on holiday to mentally prepare for the above big project today’s blog post will be shorter.

Moriah Jovan has been putting some thoughts together about writing now and why writers have to look at other ways to get income. She also suggests Editors go freelance,Book Designers concentrate on ebook formatting as there is a real need for these skills and Indexers and Publishers should be looking to lift their game with new digital referencing.
Lots of little thoughts but put together make a powerful message.

The Guardian this week has an article on iphone apps that are being developed to accompany books. Iain M Banks has a new book out and the iphone app to accompany it will have lots of little goodies just like a DVD movie extras segment.(nice to know I’m ahead of the trend)

Highspotinc have made a compelling case for the future format of books…sorry they think that it will all be digital…however they divide book publishing into ebooks, print on demand (POD) and collectors edition hardcopy print books like JK Rowling’s jewel encrusted hand written copies of Beedle The Bard.
Audio books seem to be a different kettle of fish as the commentators on this article discuss.

So in the future the Fabo Story could be available as an ebook, a POD book, an audio book, on video, and as a collector’s edition with a jewel encrusted cover  and iphone app with hidden extras….Oh the possibilities…

As I have been away from my regular computer…nothing new to report on Craicerplus but if you haven’t had time to check out previous articles on it, take some time now to have a trawl through. Just click the blue Amplify button on the right.


Thursday, July 1, 2010


I’ve been busy thinking. 
Yes it does happen. 
I’ve been busy, being busy but also I have been thinking about how to apply what I have learned thus far in the last two years on this blog to an exciting project that a group of children’s writers are about to launch to an eagerly awaiting public...well I hope they are going to be intrigued and want to join us for the journey.

So what thoughts have been swirling around the grey matter.

Marketing Plans.

Dan Holloway at self publishing review has written a helpful article on marketing plans and business plans and why authors confuse them. He offers some helpful tips on how to look at the business of writing.
This was helpful when I came to put together a marketing plan for our writing team to chew over.

Website Development.

Carolyn Kaufman of Querytracker  has put a comprehensive article together on author/book website development. This is one of the best articles I have seen on the subject and covers many points such as branding, additional information, storyboarding, building the site and domain names.
Well worth a look and a trawl through the comments even if you have a website.

This week I updated and changed my Bones book blog to make it cleaner, reflecting some of the valuable advice from Querytracker .  

The Rule of Twenty.

Michael from Upstart Crow Literary has written a great blog on Bruce Colville’s talk on the rule of twenty. According to Bruce it is only when you get to the twentieth idea that it is truly original. Anybody who has read any of Bruce Colville’s work knows that he is screamingly funny and a very original children’s writer.
(Dare I say that the story the writing team is working on is screamingly funny and very, very original I think we must get to twenty ideas in each chapter...)

Transmedia and Story

Alison Norrington of The Literary Platform has been thinking about authors and how they need to stretch themselves across different publishing platforms. She highlights that publishers also need to understand the power of story across publishing platforms and links to a few trans media projects worth looking at as good examples. This is an interesting and thought provoking post.


Folio Literary Management have written a great post on queries. They know of what they speak as they are a reputable literary agency who see hundreds of queries a week. They give some pointers and also an analysed query letter to look at. Very good information here.

Over on Craicerplus (my Amplify page) I have links to some great articles this week.

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction-Famous Authors Tell All

The Biggest Mistakes Writers Make? 5 Tips For writing Better

Agent Michael Larsen Talks About 12 Ways To Excite Writing Pro’s About Your Novel

When To Tell Instead Of Show

Two Legs and a Kilt - How To Hook Your Reader

Writing Creepy For Kids Without Scarring Them For Life

Working Hard IS Not Enough 18 Ways to Work Smarter

The following Video is for Tania Roxborogh. She has been working hard lately getting the Sequel To Banquo’s Son off to the printers and starting Book Three. This is for all the English teachers out there, especially those who write children’s books.


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