Book Trailer #2

When I woke up this morning, a second book trailer was the furthest thing from my mind, but I had some free time and — like the first book trailer — was able to put this together really quickly, in less than a half hour (with a little help from my tech guru, my oldest son). As I often discuss in this blog and in my classes, indie authors need to take advantage of whatever tools they have at their disposal to market their books. A little creativity goes a long way in social media circles. So put on your thinking caps! This video was put together using Microsoft PowerPoint and YouTube and cost me nothing but a few minutes of time. Would love to hear your thoughts!

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Blurbs

BabyBailino_digital_final_FINALAs you work on self-publishing your book, you may want to consider getting a blurb or two. What are blurbs? Words of praise or reviews from another person that go directly onto your book cover or flap. Their purpose is simply to convince readers to buy your book. People like to read books that are liked by other people, so if a popular author gives a book an endorsement or her stamp of approval, that author’s legions of fans are opt to get on board and buy that book.

Who should write a blurb for you?

Well, there are no rules, but there are three good candidates:

  1. Celebrity
  2. Well-known author in your genre (fiction)
  3. Well-respected individual in your field (nonfiction)

How do you go about getting a blurb?

It’s easy. Create a list of potential book blurbers — maybe 7 or 8 — kind of like a list you would make when applying to college. Divide the list into “reach” (blurbers who are probably hard to get, like celebrities), “match” (those for whom you have a good shot a landing a blurb), and “safety” (people very likely to provide you with a blurb). And then simply go down the line and ask each one. The great thing about social media and the internet is that anyone is accessible.

Remember, of course, to always be courteous and to make sure that you’ve spelled the person’s name correctly and that your request carries no typos or grammatical/punctuation errors. (I believe written requests, in the form of emails, are best. Also, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a telephone number for someone famous.) The worst that could happen is that person will say is no, but he or she might surprise you and say yes. At the very least, even if the person declines, he or she will remember your name.

I humbly asked David Baldacci to blurb my new book, Baby Bailino (he declined), but his associate remembered that I had asked four years earlier for Baby Grand (as you can see I tend to never give up). My hope is that the third time will be the charm.

#PitMad

Hey, authors, it’s that time again!

Twitter is having another pitch party! If you’ve got a completed manuscript you would like to pitch to agents and publishers, head on over to Twitter TODAY between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST. You’ve got a mere 140 characters to get them interested in your stuff. You are only allowed to pitch the same manuscript two times per hour, and be sure to vary your pitches, because Twitter might not let you tweet the same tweets again and again. Also, be sure to include the #PitMad hashtag as well as the category of your manuscript (Young Adult, Adult, New Adult, Nonfiction, etc.) Good luck, and may the words be with you!

Copyright Registration: Should You Do It?

Attorney Omid Zareh discusses copyright basics at the East Meadow Public Library on Long Island.

Attorney Omid Zareh discusses copyright basics at the East Meadow Public Library on Long Island.

I think most authors know that copyright registration is not a requirement for protection under the copyright law, since copyright is secured automatically when a work is created. So why bother registering a copyright?

That’s what I’ve always wondered, so I decided to attend a seminar last night at the East Meadow Public Library, Long Island, N.Y., titled, “Long Island Writers and Authors: Copyrighting Your Work.”  The presenter was Omid Zareh, a co-founding partner of Weinberg Zareh & Geyerhahn, LLP, based in Merrick, N.Y. Zareh advises in various areas of the law, including technology, intellectual property, real property and corporate disputes.

According to Zareh, although registering a copyright is considered a legal formality, doing so does give authors some additional protections under the law. In particular, if copyright registration is made within three months after publication of a work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. (Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.) It also establishes a public record of the copyright claim and is necessary should an infringement suit ever be filed in court. Additionally, it allows you to record the registration with the U.S. Customs Service to protect against the importation of infringing copies.

And if that wasn’t compelling enough, registering a work is super-easy and -inexpensive. Simply visit the U.S. Copyright Office’s website, and file a copyright registration for your work using the Office’s online system. To file online, it only costs $35 (to file a paper claim, it’s $65).

Ease of filing. Cost-effectiveness. Added legal protections. Really, there doesn’t seem to be a reason NOT to register a copyright for a work. I think I’m sold.

A Word About Lynn Shepherd and JK Rowling

I debated whether or not to address this issue, since it’s already gotten so much media attention and commentary, but I just wanted to say a few words about Lynn Shepherd’s piece for The Huffington Post titled, If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It. Obviously, this is a sensationalist title, and the article goes on to say that — although Shepherd has not read Rowling’s books — she believes that Rowling should give up writing adult books: “By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure – I would never deny anyone that – but when it comes to the adult market you’ve had your turn,” Shepherd says.

Pretty strong words, no? So much so that my first thought was that the post must be intended as hyperbole. She couldn’t possibly mean she wanted JK Rowling to really stop writing adult books. Seriously? Then I thought it was a marketing ploy, a way to boost Shepherd’s profile, get more comments, higher search results — you know, in a there’s-no-such-thing-as-bad-publicity kind of way. After all, we authors need all the help we can get. But, guess what? Turns out, there might just be such as thing as bad publicity.

As you would imagine, the response to Shepherd’s post was insane. Authors (including Anne Rice) began condemning the piece and Shepherd, and legions of JK Rowling fans were calling for Shepherd’s head on a platter, many of them taking to Twitter and to Shepherd’s Facebook page to tell her so and also posting one-star reviews of Shepherd’s books on Amazon and Goodreads. It was nuts. I kept wondering to myself, Was she hoping to stir the pot? Did she intend to offend? Could she have imagined this crazy response, a response so big that the BBC News covered it?

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Memo to Publishing Industry: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

In addition to feverishly working on my edits for In the Red (I’m still on schedule, yeah!) I’ve spent the last few days reading the flood of posts that are out there regarding Author Earnings: The Report. There are a slew of posts, including:

Anylyzing the Author Earnings Data Using Basic Analytics

Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings Report Is Going to Cut the Anti-Self Publishing Rhetoric Off at the Knees

The New Class System

Fisking Donald Maass

Needless to say, my head is spinning. What strikes me most is the ill will being put forth by both the traditionally published and self-published camps. Call me naive, but why must we label and gang up on one another? The long-standing traditionally published (“snobby,” “elitist”) authors versus the up-and-coming, entrepreneurial self-published authors (“hacks,” “bottom feeders”). It’s a regular Lord of the Flies out there! Perhaps this is the way change works — it’s ugly and people take sides because they’re scared that they won’t have a place (or might lose their place) in the new regime. But, people, I think we all need to work together rather than choose sides. Isn’t it fair to say that self-published books, as a group, are truly making inroads within the publishing industry and that there are many talented authors who are choosing to self-publish? And isn’t it also fair to say that there are many, many self-published books that are truly awful?

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Should Authors Heed eBook Reader Data?

A recent New York Times article discusses how technology is allowing authors of eBooks to see all kinds of reader data:

  • How long does it take readers to read your book?
  • Do readers finish your book?
  • Do readers skip chapters? If so, which ones?
  • Do readers linger over certain scenes?

Some critics argue that having this kind of information will make authors more like pushers of product rather than creators of art, catering to the whims of a fickle consumer. They argue the information interferes with the creative process. Personally, I think the notion of authors writing to the market’s needs/wants is not something new. I have author-friends who have been “persuaded” by agents and publishing houses to write about topics that are “selling” or “hot now.” This kind of nudge or coercion, if you can call it that, is now coming directly from the consumer, rather than the publishing industry and, perhaps, has never been at this micro-level before, although you can argue that it has.

Is this kind of stuff good for authors to know? Sure, why not. Information is good. When I attend book clubs, readers tell me all the time what they’d like to see happen in the sequel to Baby Grand, and I always listen — readers have been very passionate about the book’s characters, which is so cool. But the truth is I already know in my heart how the next book will go, and I don’t think anything anyone says will change that.

I guess that’s the key. It’s like parenting. You listen to what’s being said. You read the information that’s out there. The reviews. You consider the suggestions. But then you do what you think is right. If authors feel strongly about their characters and their books, nothing should sway them from the book they set out to write, whatever the reader data says.

Do you agree? What say you, authors? Would you like to have this kind of reader information? Would it change the way you write?