Saturday, May 31, 2008

Inspired Quote: On Speed


"The faster I write, the better my output. If I'm going slow, I'm in trouble. It means I'm pushing the words instead of being pulled by them."

~ Raymond Chandler

Thursday, May 29, 2008

13 Rules for Publicizing Your Book

1) There are no rules.
What worked for your last book may not work on this. What worked for your friend's book may not work for yours. Publicity is an art not a science. Feel out what works and go with it. If something doesn't seem to be working, let it go.

2) Your publisher won't do it for you.
With few exceptions, your publisher (unless you're the publisher) won't provide a lot of marketing support -- unless you're famous enough not to need marketing support. So if you want people to know about your book, it’s up to you to tell them.

3) If you're self-publishing, don’t skimp on your book cover.
Your book cover is your most important promotional tool. Unless you have experience in the field, don't design it yourself. Have it designed by a professional book-cover designer (not by a graphic artist with no cover-design experience) and put the image on all your promotional material.

3a) Everyone has a fridge.
Fridge magnets that show off your book cover are great promotional tools. They’re even better than bookmarks because everyone in the household gets to see them. They’re available inexpensively from www.vistaprint.com.

3b) You have to wear something...
...So you might as well be a walking billboard and wear a t-shirt or sweatshirt that shows off your book cover. For t-shirts, go to www.vistaprint.com; for sweatshirts, www.cafepress.com.

4) Abandon all expectations.
Sometimes your efforts will produce the desired results. Sometimes, they won't. Don't stress about it or beat yourself up. Just move on to your next idea.

5) Everyone loves an author.
A recent survey says that 82% of Americans want to write a book someday. The fact that you have -- and that you have a book with your name on the cover -- buys you a lot of credibility with a lot of people, some of whom will buy your book simply because they've met the author.

6) Your town/region loves its authors.
How easy do you think it would be, as an unknown New Yorker, to get your self-published book into a Borders in Manhattan? Many regional bookstores, including the chains, are eager to support regional writers and are happy to set up signings and events for you. Don't be shy about approaching a store's manager or books/inventory manager. Remember, though, that you still have to promote your book and your event. Just because your book is on the shelf doesn't mean it will sell. Just because you have an event doesn't mean people will show up.

6a) Having a book-signing? Be focused and approachable.
Just because you're sitting at a book-signing table doesn't mean people will come up to talk to you...or buy your book. Don't read or do other work at your table. Discourage friends and family from hanging around your table. Don't gossip with your fellow authors if you're doing a group signing. You're there to engage readers and sell books. Be friendly. Be focused. Be engaging. Be approachable. If someone doesn't buy a book, have a card or flyer for them to take away with them.

7) Don’t be shy.
Let anyone and everyone know that you've written a book. Share your passion for your subject. Sell yourself and your book to anyone who will listen. But don't be obnoxious about it. Always carry promotional material -- business cards, fridge magnets, postcards, flyers -- and hand it out liberally. Always have copies with you to sell...and sell them.

8) Everybody loves a winner.
If writing a book buys you credibility, writing an award-winning book buys you even more. Enter contests and competitions. When you win or place, let everyone know and be sure to issue a press release.

9) Get testimonials.
Encourage everyone who reads your book to send you their comments and to post reviews on Amazon. Even if you can’t get reviews in the media, comments from satisfied readers can go on flyers and on your web site.

10) Don’t forget the internet.
Get a web site. Start a blog. Join social networks like MySpace. Let the world know you're an author. Particularly on social networks, let people get to know you first as a person. They're more likely to buy your book if they like you. They're more likely to ignore you if they think you're just connecting with them to hustle your book. There is also an increasing number of social networks geared specifically to authors and book marketing. They're great for ideas, less so for selling books. (Check out my MySpace profile, my web sites at www.markdavidgerson.com and www.lightlinesmedia.com, and my other blog at www.markdavidgerson.blogspot.com.)

11) Stay in touch with your readers.
Collect e-mail addresses from your readers and stay connected with a newsletter that offers them real value, one they'll want to forward to friends and family.

12) Publicity is about freebies.
There are many ways to get into the media that won't cost you a thing. Events listings is the most obvious. When you write book reviews or articles for newsletters and trade magazines, you'll get a short bio where you can include information about your book. If you're a college graduate, contact your alumni magazine. Mine has a regular spread that features new books and CDs by graduates. Contact your hometown paper. It may be thrilled to feature a story about a now-published native son or daughter.

12a) A publicist could be your best friend.
Just because you can write doesn’t mean you can write a press release. Just because there are 1001 ways to market your book doesn’t mean you have the time or expertise to do them all. Even though I have a p.r. background, I choose to work with a publicist.

13) There are no rules.
Read these ideas as well as those in books like Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual and John Kremer's 1001 Ways to Market Your Book, then find your own way, your own rhythm. Hone your intuitive senses to know what feels right and what doesn't, what will likely bear fruit and what won't. And then get out there and let the world know you’ve got the book it’s been waiting for!

Free Teleseminar: Using Social Networks to Sell Your Books

If you've been trying to figure out the best way to use MySpace, Facebook and other social networks to increase your author's profile and sell more books, check out Social Media Made Simple for Overwhelmed Authors, a free teleseminar being offered Wed., June 4 at 8pm ET.

Offered by Reader Views and Rebecca's Reads, this teleseminar is designed to help you use social networking to "grow your book, generate more traffic and enhance your credibility."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Editing as an Act of re-Vision

See the editing process as one of re-vision-- revisiting your original vision for your work and putting all your heart, art and skill into aligning what's on paper with that vision.

As you move through your piece -- whatever it is, whatever its length -- see yourself as a jeweler, delicately etching your rough stone into the gem that reflects the vision your heart has conceived and received, then lovingly polishing it until you achieve the look and texture you desire.

Your vision is the light force of your work, the life force of your work. It's the spirit that is its essence, the breath that keeps it alive. Your vision is your dream for your work, the expression of your intention. It's what guides it, drives it and propels it -- from conception to completion.

The more deeply you stay connected to that vision -- however broadly or specifically you have drawn it -- the more completely the finished piece will remain true to that life force, that dream, that intention. And the truer you will be to the work that has called upon you to commit it to paper and breathe life into it.

• For more information on how to articulate a vision statement for your work, see "Awakening Your Vision" in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write.

I'll be giving a free talk on "The Heartful Art of Revision: An Intuitive Approach to Editing" on Monday, June 9 in Albuquerque, New Mexico as part of the Writer to Writer speaker series. Click here for details.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Inspired Quote: Writerly Chaos

"When people see the nice books with the nice white pages and the nice black writing, what they don't see is the chaos and the complete frenzy and general shambles that the work comes out of."
~ Margaret Atwood

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Resistance is Futile

Writer's block is nothing more nor less than your resistance to those words that would have their way with you if you would but surrender to them.

Instead, you say, "No, not these words. I want others."

Well, there are no other words. There are only heart words.

If you would but open your heart and allow what longs to flow from you easy egress, there would be no block. If you would but make your fear subservient to your courage, there would be no block. For fear and courage can coexist, but not as equals. One must take precedence. Fear leads to inaction. Courage to action.

Step through your fear and into your courage. Write through your fear and into your courage. Allow the voice of your Muse to live through you onto the page.

Do it now. Write. Surrender to the story, whatever it is. Dissolve your resistance. And let those words you have run from have their way with you. Now.

Adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, from the "Myth of Writer's Block" section.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Last Laugh Goes to Self-Published Humorist

The self-published winner of Canada's most prestigious literary humor award now has a publisher. (See "Self-Published Author Wins Prestigious National Award," May 1.)

Douglas Gibson Books, an imprint of McClelland & Stewart, beat out the two other Canadian publishers who had expressed interest in The Best Laid Plans, a political satire by Toronto's Terry Fallis, after it won the CAN$10,000 Stephen Leacock Medal last month.

The literary agent who secured the deal for Fallis had turned him down when she was first approached with the manuscript.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Writing Do's and Don't's


Do's...

1. Remember that there are no rules.
There is no right way (including this one). There is no wrong way. There is only your way.

2. Get out of your own way.
Ask any element of your being that is logical, analytical, critical, cynical, doubt-filled or judgmental to step aside for the duration of your projected writing time.

3. Leap into the void...and trust.
Don’t worry about being polite, appropriate or correct. Don’t worry about making sense. Don’t worry about anything. Just blurt it out.

3a. Listen...and always go with your first thoughts.
Second thoughts and second-guessing come from that part of your mind that is judgmental or censoring. Trust that what’s coming to you is what calls out to be expressed. Allow it to be expressed. Trust it and surrender to it.


Don't's

1. Don't force your words into a straitjacket.
Instead, let your words and their innate wisdom determine the form of your work.

2. Don't reread your work if you're feeling critical or judgmental.
Instead, wait an hour, a day, a week or a month...however long it takes for you to be able to see your work from a place of heartful discernment, not harsh judgment.

3. Don't worry about the next word, the next sentence or the next chapter.
Instead, remember that the next word will come as easily as your next breath...if you let it.

3a. Don't forget to breathe.
Instead, consider that if you're feeling stuck in your writing, you're probably also stuck in your breathing (and vice versa). Take a moment to center yourself and refocus on your breath.

Adapted from "13 Rules for Writing" from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Birthing a Book

I didn’t know anything about a book called The MoonQuest when its words began to flow through me.

I didn’t know The Voice of the Muse was a book when its words began pouring from me.

All I knew in both instances was that my Muse was calling me and that the only way to answer its call was to write.

As I wrote, the books took care of themselves.

One day’s writing led to the next. One draft led to the next. One book led to the next.

Each day, draft and book drove my pen. My pen, in turn, drove me.

My only job was to release all attachment to form, structure, content and outcome. My only job was to write and let the words go where they chose and create what was theirs to create.

As it turned out, what was theirs to create were books. They could have been short stories, articles, journal entries or exercises. They could have been anything at all.

My job wasn't to try to figure that out. My job was to write, to surrender to the imperative of my Muse -- a wiser soul in all things creative than I could ever pretend to be.

Life can be like that too. When God or our higher self or our intuition or our gut guides us in a particular direction, our responsibility is to surrender -- using our discernment, of course...a discernment that gets sharpened and honed with each experience.

We can no more figure out the bigger life picture with its infinite possibility than we can the bigger creative picture with its. In both cases, the full potential lies so far beyond our imagining that, truly, surrender is the only viable option.

What can you surrender to today? In your writing? In your life?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Self-Published Author Wins Prestigious National Award


According to this morning's Globe and Mail newspaper out of Toronto, a debut novel self-published by its author after he couldn't attract an agent or publisher, has won Canada's most prestigious award for literary humor: the CAN$10,000 Stephen Leacock Medal.

Terry Fallis of Toronto, a 48-year-old first-time author, beat out four other finalists, all of whom had been published by regional or national publishers.

Fallis published his political satire The Best Laid Plans with the print-on-demand service iUniverse after successfully offering free downloadable podcasts on his own web site and at Podiobooks.

After Fallis was put on the Leacock Medal's short list earlier this spring, Beverley Slopen, one of Canada's best-known literary agents, changed her mind and agreed to take him on. "I love it when people break the rules and win," Slopen told The Globe and Mail's James Adams.