Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Be Kind to Your Mind

Last night I told myself the thing I'd drafted wasn't a poem: Real poems take long stressful craft sessions, and are serious, and this one entertained me so vastly I read it aloud several times laughing. Then I invented excuses for it: "It's kind of a theater piece," or "You could work on this so it'd be in couplets and then it'd be good," & c. Told myself everything in the world except, "Hey, you just drafted a 60-line poem -- that alone is pretty great; congratulations."

Making some kind of trivial mistake ("What'd I come in here to get? Can't remember") I have been catching myself calling myself "Stupid!" "What a dodo-brain," "Nobody else would be so incompetent," etc.

Have I sat myself down today and said, "You rock! You're doing a pretty good job with your life. You are so well-read, so together, and a creative artist! What discipline, what fire," and so on? I've got a good mind. Why am I not kind to it -- as kind and generous as it has been to me?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Are You Nervous About "Selling"?

In Girl Scouts I sold the least cookies. My record low year was 6 boxes. I hated going door-to-door (it wasn't dangerous 40 years ago), feeling as if I were begging for sales; it was embarrassing, shaming, beneath me, huckstering, craven, I was "bothering people"...so not ME.

You may have the same problem thinking of selling books. Possibly at its root is a fear of rejection. Our creative imaginations can turn simple rejections into emotionally scarifying experiences. I see these possible ways out:

1. Get over it. Everybody's selling something! The worst anyone can say is No.
2. Hire a salesperson to sell ("pimp") what you've got.
3. Create a team effort with another person who is business-wise or isn't so sensitive, and learn alongside of them how to set goals, etc.
4. Believe in what you are selling, so much that you will make yourself sell.
5. Check out shrinkingvioletpromotions.blogspot.com -- "Marketing for Introverts" if you're just as afraid to "bother" your editor as you are to "bother" a book buyer!
6. Sell something else and let the book tag along. For example, become an expert in your book topic and give seminars. Offer the book at every gig.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Halfway Through a Novel?

A UK publisher is publishing half a novel -- and inviting readers to fill in the second half and send it in. Read about it here. The publisher says it's a way to discover new writing talent. Seems to me it's a way to sell out the first press run of 1500 copies (pub date Oct. 31). But suddenly it seems to me that I -- like a lot of people -- could write half a novel and maybe get a friend to write the other half. . . Team Novel Writing (Mark Twain/Charles Dudley Warner - Joseph Conrad/Ford Madox Ford) isn't new. In fact it's worked quite well.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Exposed: A Lie About Book Marketing

“A book won’t sell itself.” True or false?

False. Seems to me plenty of books sell themselves. Take The Portable Abraham Lincoln. He isn’t around to promote it, but it sells.

Ah, you say, but Lincoln was a public person, a man of great character, beautifully articulate, historic, famous, exceptional. I say, consider then a workaday trade paperback such as Letting Go: The Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years (Third Edition). A college administrator saw a need for this book, first published in 1997; it caught on; and 12 years later it still sells.

You reply: But there was a market just salivating for that book. Look then, I reply, at Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. That book (originally self-published) created its own market. Heck, it created its own industry; you can get it on audio CD, get workbooks, sequels, Morning Pages journals, and so on.

Yes, you say, but those books aren’t great literature. There’s no market for great literature. Bosh, I say. Has anybody who reads English gotten through this life without reading, somehow, To Kill a Mockingbird? At this moment it's at No. 509 on amazon.com!

Yes, you say -- but that’s a really, really good book.

I say, your book will sell itself for a long, long time if you are a public person of great character, exceptional; or if there’s an untapped market for it; or if your book can create its own market; or if it’s a really, really good book. If your book possesses none of these qualities you should keep working until it does – if you want your book to sell itself.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Don't Know the First Thing About Marketing

Now you've got a book (or chapbook) -- what do you do? I presume you want people to buy and read it. Here are the steps I'm taking with my book Meet Me: Writers in St. Louis, due to be published next month. Even if your book is already published, these will help.

The Postcard: You can design and send a postcard announcing the availability of your book at ANY time in the marketing process. I'm doing it pre-publication.

1. People, libraries, and stores have to know your book is available. I designed (using a template) and bought, online, from 123print.com, 250 postcards announcing my book and a little of what it's about; pages and price; plus the ISBN and the publisher's contact information for pre-orders. Beautiful, full-color glossy postcards. 100 postcard stamps cost me $28. No, the postcards don't match the book cover, which isn't designed yet (!). I want people to anticipate the book more than I want the card to "match" the cover. That would be the ideal, but it won't happen this time; I won't wait. (Writer, never waste your time waiting for something to happen that's out of your power.) Some postcards I will hand out or post wherever writers gather.

I AM holding back the postcards until I test the publisher's online pre-ordering system. Nothing worse than publicity for a book that is not available!

Remember: You can design and send a postcard announcing the availability of your book at ANY time in the marketing process. The only requirement is the book has to be obtainable.

What, I, the WRITER, paid for this? You bet! If you want to sell your book, these days YOU, the writer, promote it.