Tip Thursday: Author Questions

We are loving all the feedback from our Author Training last week. We unfortunately weren’t able to answer all the questions asked during the training so I thought we’d get to some of them here:

  • What is the difference between a Facebook Fan Page and a Personal Page? How do I use them differently?

Probably the biggest difference between the two is how you interact with people. With a personal page you make friends and mutually get to learn what is going on in each other’s lives. With the fan page it’s more of a business relationship: more branding and promoting than hanging out and family updates. For more info visit this post on socialmediahound.com.

  • How do you track your statistics?

There are a number of different ways this can be done. Two of our favorites are StatCounter and Google Analytics. On your website you can embed a StatCounter Widget or you can use the Google Analytics site. They both have their pros and cons. Find out more about them with this post by EDinteractive.

  • How do you balance the different media outlets and target audiences?

This is actually two questions that I combined because they have a similar answer: it depends. It depends on what audience and media outlet is being the most beneficial for you. It depends on how much effort you want to put into it. It depends on a lot of things. It’s a continuous round of trying things out, analyzing, adjusting, trying things out…you get the picture. For more on how this process works see this post on About.com.

Thanks again to all the authors who came to our Author Training. We loved meeting with you. If you weren’t there, hopefully you can make it to the next one!

Author Training Recap

We had a fun time at our Author Training last Friday! Over 25 authors and their guests attended, despite a fairly early hour. We learned about Facebook Fan Pages, author GoodReads Pages, Twitter Accounts, and even a bit of clogging, courtesy of Nate Moller.

Nate Moller from Moller Marketing

Two things I really liked about the training was that authors were encouraged to do what was being explained WHILE it was being explained. I’m sure at least 5 authors made a Facebook fan page during the training, then they were able to hook up with the other authors who were there, which was the second thing that I really liked about the training. It’s so fun to finally meet our authors face-to-face after reading or working on their books. It’s kinda like meeting a celebrity.

L to R: Sherri Mills, Frank Richardson, Michael Young

Apparently it goes the other way too because when I introduced myself to one of the authors she said, “Oh you’re one of them who writes the blogs. I feel like I’ve met someone famous now.” *blush* Made my day. (This author’s first book comes out in December and is called The Break-up Artist.)

L to R: Shannen Camp, Mandi Slack, Paul Rimmasch, Jennifer Holt

If you are feeling bad that you weren’t able to come, never fear…we recorded it! We should have link by the end of the week if you would like to purchase a DVD of the event and learn for yourself some tricks to marketing your book online.

Top to Bottom, L to R: Lyle Mortimer, Chris Hall, Duane Hall

Here a list of some of the authors that attended. And since they are now savvy Internet gurus, they would love to be friends with you online:

Mariah with lunch. Yay!

If you attended, what did you enjoy about the training?

If you didn’t attend, what would you like to learn the next time we do this? Or what is something that all authors should know?

Bonus Kudos: I’m the only person in 3 of these pictures, what am I wearing?

Book Trailers – the good, the bad, the necessary

The Last Archangel by Michael D. Young.
The world of marketing changes everyday. Ask a marketing professional what they did 25 years ago to promote books and you won’t get the same answer I’ll give you today! The internet has completely changed the way books are recommended and shared.

Book Trailers

How many of you have seen a movie trailer? I’ll know you’re lying if you say you never have. Previews are the most used tool in the movie industry to generate buzz about an upcoming movie. Do you make it a point to watch a preview before you spend money on a movie? How can you be sure it’s something you want to see if you don’t?

Book trailers work in much the same way. Of course, since the book you need a preview for was never filmed, the making of a book trailer is a much more creative process than taking bits of a movie and mashing them to fit in a 30-second slot.

Who needs a book trailer?

Book trailers are effective for any kind of book. Nonfiction, Young-adult, children’s, cookbooks, anything! As long as your book trailer is appealing to your audience, you’re doing a great job! The purpose of a book trailer is to get someone that would potentially want to read your book – to want to read your book!

In short, every author needs a book trailer for his/her book!

What makes a good book trailer?

A trailer that leaves the viewer asking questions and intrigued to find out more about the story.

Elements of fun

How do I get started?

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to spend some time on that glorious video-sharing site: YouTube. Browse around for book trailers. Look for trailers on books you’ve already read. Look for your favorite books. Then:

Look for these elements:

  1. What do I like about this book trailer? What works?
  2. What do I not like? What isn’t working?
  3. How could this trailer be even better if it were about my book?
  4. Is this worth sharing with my friends?

These are just a few guidelines to get you started thinking about book trailers and how you can make one for your book.

Share other ideas below. What will you do to make an awesome book trailer?

Lastly, read Kate Noble’s blog post on How to Make a Book Trailer for $5 or less.

Writing Tip Thursday: Query Letter Do’s and Don’ts

Working here at Cedar Fort is a great opportunity for an aspiring writer, like myself, to pick up tricks of the trade and really immerse myself in the world of book publishing. In a previous post I discussed things I’ve learned about how you can work with the publisher to promote you and your book. Today we’re going to take a step back and look at things you can do in your query letter that will help the Acquisitions editors give your manuscript the time of day.Query letters, Query letter, writing a query letter, submission letter, & Submission cover letter

Our head Acquisitions editor, Jennifer, was kind enough to share these lists with me.

Do’s
1. Give us as much marketing information as possible. Include the number of friends you have on facebook, followers on your blog, the number of email contacts you have, the name of your website, schedule speaking engagements, and anything that shows us that you have thought about how you can help sell your book. (See Rebecca Talley’s Guest Post for ways to increase your online presence.)
2. Tell us why you’re qualified to write your book (this is more applicable for nonfiction but we’d still like to know for all of the genres); what writing experience have you had? What education or work/life experience qualifies you to write about the subject? etc.
3. Proof read your letter. If it is cluttered with typos or addressed to another publisher, we are not likely to give your manuscript much time.

Don’ts
1. Don’t tell us that you can’t or don’t know how to market your book.
2. Don’t tell us that we’re making a big mistake if we decide not to publish your book.
3. Don’t send us your manuscript in the first place if you’re going to publish with another publisher.

A successful query letter is your key to getting the editors excited for your manuscript and gives them a taste of what it will be like to work with you. If you are unprofessional in your communications, a “No” will be quick in coming. Being professional, clear and succinct in your query letter may just be the fresh air the editor is looking for.

"Query letters," "Query letter," "writing a query letter," "submission letter," & "Submission cover letter."Finally, don’t forget to include your contact info at the bottom of your letter–otherwise we can’t tell you “Yes. We’d love to see your manuscript!”

For a sample query letter and more advice go here.

Are there any other questions you’d like to ask our editors?

Writing Tip Thursday: It’s your baby–help it grow!

I haven’t been working here at Cedar Fort for very long, but I have already gotten a feel of what this publisher, and I’m sure others too, would like to see in their authors once they’ve signed the contract.

First off let’s look at what it means when a publisher finally wants to publish your book and you finally get to sign a contract. Contrary to popular belief, signing a contract with a publisher does NOT mean that you are selling your soul. It is more like entering into a business relationship. And with any business relationship it’s best if you work as partners to mutually benefit each other. You get access to the publisher’s Design, Editorial, and Marketing teams–people who have experience in working with and selling books, and the publisher gets a book that they hope will sell well, though quite often it’s a gamble.

So now you’re partners with the publisher. You hand your book over and let it go, just like sending a kindergartner off to her first day of school. Wrong! Your book is your baby. Nobody is more invested in this project than you. You know your book better than anyone else, so you know how to connect with your readers about it better than anyone else. The publisher needs you to be even more invested than before to help your baby grow and flourish. As Frank L. Cole said in a recent post, “Unless you can sign your name as Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), J K Rowling (Potter), or Rick Riordan (Percy), you’ll be required to really sell your self along with your book.”

So how do you do that? How do you sell yourself and your book?

Well you start even before you sign a contract by polishing your manuscript. The publisher continues the work of polishing to make it into an even more sellable product. But, as with any product, the trick is to get the word out there. This is where you have to get more creative than when you were writing your book. If you are more willing and able to get out there and share your book with others, the publisher will be more likely to be excited about working with you. But that doesn’t mean that you can be a stalker and hound bookstore managers and radio stations. Coordinate your efforts with the marketing team to get the most publicity.

Remember how I said the publisher takes a gamble when they publish your book? They not only take a gamble on the book, but also on you. You working to promote your book takes a lot of risk out of the decision of whether they should publish your book or not. With that said, here are some things you can do to help your baby grow before and after a contract:

  • Have a specific marketing plan when you submit your manuscript.
  • Have a fan/friend base online already in place so you can quickly get the word out.
  • Polish yourself as well your book. It helps if you are a good speaker and/or good in front of a camera or microphone.
  • Get as many pre-sales as possible. The more pre-sales of your book the more likely the big name bookstores (Amazon, Barnes & Noble) will buy and promote it.
  • Be a nice person to everyone! You never know when you will meet your biggest fan (besides your mother).
  • Have a website or blog where you can connect with your fans and share events, such as books signings, etc. You can even guest post on other blogs to spread the word further.
  • Network with other authors to do combo giveaways or panels on a certain subject. There is power in numbers.
  • Keep writing! Once you get fans, keep them by feeding their hunger with more material. Plus, publishers are more willing to accept a manuscript from a published author.

Caution: Not all books are marketed the same. This is because they don’t all have the same marketability. Some are for very specific audiences, like knitters, some for more general audiences, like parents. Publishers can’t guarantee that you will have a national bestseller. They don’t have a crystal ball that they can figure things out with. But you, working hard, can swing things in your favor.

Is there something else you do to promote your book?

How do you connect with people and stay connected?