AWP 2016 The Perfect Self-Released Book

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Mindbuck Media and Friends will be hosting a panel at AWP 2016 in Los Angeles! 

The Perfect Self-Released Book: What Elements Are Essential, and Will All This Money and Work Pay Off in the End?

Scott James Bookfair Stage, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One
Thursday, March 31, 2016
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm 

Link to AWP Event Page 

Many AWP participants plan to self-publish. However, a tidal wave of subpar books into the public sphere remains a damning criticism of the practice, making it difficult for readers to sort through new releases for quality, particularly from emerging writers. Self-published books need to be perfected to be part of the literary conversation. However, the reality of poor sales and high expenses needs to be discussed openly so that authors do not get stuck releasing an inferior product.

Moderator: Jessica Glenn is a book publicist, musician, and writer. Her book publicity company of ten years, MindBuck Media, specializes in fiction. Glenn has published short fiction and poetry in PDX Magazine, Mamaphonic, Papierdoll, and elsewhere, and her press releases are reprinted widely.

Kristin Thiel is a professional editor and  helps individuals writing dragon mysteries, universities publishing dialogues on education, and tech companies crafting white papers. Over the years, her self-publishing clients have only grown in number, with good reasons.

Vinnie Kinsella, author of A Little Bit of Advice for Self-Publishers, began his love affair with book publishing in the second grade, when he worked with his fellow students to write and illustrate a story about the adventures of an ice-cream loving giraffe. Since then he has worked as a writer, editor, book designer, journal publisher, workshop speaker, and college instructor. In his current role as a publications consultant, he uses his broad knowledge of the publishing industry to assist and educate self-published authors. Vinnie lives in Portland, Oregon, with his books and his collection of coffee brewing equipment.

Laura Garwood, editor and writer, runs her own business out of Sacramento. She edits books, speaks about editing, and writes the well-known parenting and humor blog,Short-Winded Blog. She has her master’s in book publishing.

Mary Bisbee-Beek, Book Publicist; Agent; Foreign Rights; Marketing Consultant

https://www.awpwriter.org/awp_conference/event_detail/6037

How To Pitch Your Book

Clear forest in glasses on the background of blurred forest

From our friend Joe Biel founder, owner, and publisher of Microcosm Publishing

Microcosm Publishing is celebrating our 20th anniversary on Feb 12 and every day, new authors come to us with their delicately crafted, very personal work that they’ve spent hundreds of hours honing to perfection. Despite all this work, they’ve often completely neglected to figure out how to talk about their book, let alone how to pitch it.

But in the modern publishing landscape, the question of who gets published is less about how polished the manuscript is and more about the fact that publishers, just like readers, need a way to quickly understand what your book is about, who it is for, and most important, what benefits it offers. The book can be a masterwork, but if you can’t compellingly describe it in a single sentence, nobody will ever know.

Every book needs very clear development and language. The first question you need to be able to answer, in a one sentence pitch and at greater length in the book itself, is “what is this book about?” Next you need to investigate that the book you have in mind hasn’t already been written. Then you need to make sure you’ll be able to write it.”

THE PROCESS

If your book is best suited to major publishing houses (i.e. occupies an identifiable and reachable audience of more than 5,000 people), you’ll need to pitch an agency until one agrees to work with you. Then the agent begins the next process, of pitching to publishers. The process of pitching to indie houses is our focus here. Publishing with a client account like Amazon’s is another option, as is using a pay-to-play company to bring in some of the services that a publisher would normally provide for free. While these options do not have any barrier to entry (except money), if you want to reach readers who are not your friends and family, properly developing and pitching your book remains just as vital as it does in pitching to the industry.

THE RULES

Follow directions. It’s the first step to winning.
No matter who you’re pitching, the most important part of the process is: Read and follow all submission directions exactly. You will likely ruin your chances of success if you assume that you are an exception to the guidelines, if you do not follow them correctly, or if you do not put sufficient time into the process. I toss over half of our submissions because they have not followed our submission guidelines and the result is incomprehensible. Some people appear to be “blanket-submitting” their manuscript everywhere without regard to fit, which simply wastes everyone’s time. Others believe that if we just read their work we would be swooning so hard that we would be asking them where we could sign on. I cannot stress enough the vitality of reading the guidelines.

It’s also vital to research the publisher. Read their mission statement if they have one. Look at the other books they have coming out, and what they’ve done in the last few years. What kind of books do they like? What are their bestsellers? If a publisher has not made any children’s books, there is likely a good reason for that. Even if they made an exception for yours, it likely would not be in your best interest. You want your book to fit into the story and fabric of what your publisher does best.

WRITING THE PITCH

Make the first sentence of your pitch a clear and uncluttered explanation of what benefit the book offers to readers.
For example, you might write, “NONOWRIMO: Your Daily Guide To Not Publishing a Creative Work provides helpful day-planning and activities that a potential author could pursue instead of writing.”

This is the most important part of your pitch, so it should be the most visible. The publisher needs to immediately understand what the book is about before they will be willing to look further. Often, opening a conversation with someone about their pitch results in defensiveness and not understanding why a publisher needs certain questions answered. Again, the plausibility of a project is not related to the merit of the work as much as the merits in the concept of the work.

The second most important part of your pitch is one or two sentences explaining how your book stands out from similar titles. Focus on what is unique about your book that other in-print books do not offer. This requires research on what is in print rather than just speculating from memory or conjecture. Visit some bookstores. Check Google and Amazon, and look at the Amazon rankings to get a general idea of which books have done well and which have flopped. Publishers will do this as well, but your preliminary search will help direct your pitching in the right direction.
When the publisher’s guidelines indicate that it’s the correct time, submit the materials requested. If a specific format is not specified, include the basic outline of your complete work and a sample chapter or two. Most places will also want a list of comparable titles: books from the last five years (preferably fewer) from comparably sized presses of similar length, cover price, and marketing budgets. This helps everyone to better understand how you think about your book and the company it keeps.

PLATFORM

It’s helpful for agents and publishers and readers to understand what you bring to the table besides your writing: your platform and endorsements. Did you create a successful social media page or blog that speaks to the same people that your book does? Are there professional or popular people who are willing to speak excitedly about the book or write an endorsement? Is your best friend or aunt a well-connected journalist who is excited to go to bat for your book? Is your local TV station news host a social acquaintance? Have you written other books or done other projects that gained fans or praise? Share that briefly in your pitch.

Even if you’ve never written a book before and don’t have a strong network already in place, you can include supporting evidence about the potential readership of your book. Most of the pitches that I receive contain a blanket claim along the lines of “books about ice cream are very popular right now.” This is not helpful, but if you include a metric, like “Dentists have found that eating more ice cream reduces risk of cavities.” That level of information opens up new ways for the book to be sold and is helpful (even more so if it’s true!).

Almost every pitch I receive is too long, which causes me to skim for the relevant points. Then I respond if it fits or delete it if it does not (or if I can’t tell what it is about). So make it short and to the point. When you’ve finished crafting the most relevant information about your book, cut the word count on your pitch in half at least once, if not four times.

Above all, really think about who the book is for and what their concerns are, what publications they read, and how they feel about the issues discussed. Your book is for individual people rather than an amorphous “mainstream.” Be respectful to your audience—a prospective publisher, agent, or individual readers alike—and acknowledge what they know. Make them feel welcome. That’s how you succeed.

 

Microcosm is an independent, punk-inspired book publisher. They are about to turn 20. This is their story.  Good Trouble: Building a Successful Life & Business with Asperger’s

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/microcosmpublishing/making-room-for-good-trouble

Guest Post from Indie Reader: Get Your Book in Front of 37,000 Book Industry Professionals

Book_IRIS_programFor many Indie authors, getting their books in an actual physical bookstore is the Holy Grail. We hear it all the time. The problem is, it’s a crazy amount of work to canvas the shops, have meetings with store owners and convince them that you’re book is a good fit.

So we at IndieReader came up with a solution. Not just another listing, IR In-Store (IRIS) reviews and catalogs your book as part of a branded collection on Edelweiss, an online catalog service used by a majority of independent bookstores (plus B&N!), a social network platform for industry professionals and an interactive research tool for librarians, bloggers and reviewers.

The cost to indie authors is $399.00* per title (assuming the the title is available via Ingram Wholesale, if it’s not, IR can make it available there for a small additional fee) and includes an IndieReader book review that will accompany the title in the Edelweiss database.

Not only that, but for no additional fee, your book is included in the Edelweiss Digital Review Copy (DRC) Module. Similar in function to NetGalley, it is a secure, controlled way for authors to share their DRCs with reviewers, bloggers, librarians, media, booksellers, wholesalers, etc.

But don’t just take our word for it. Says Counting to D author and MindBuck Media client, Kate Scott, “Participating in IndieReader’s In-Store (IRIS) program is an investment I would definitely do again. If you are planning to spend any money on publicity and/or marketing for your upcoming title, I recommend joining IRIS first. I will definitely be listing all my future titles on the Edelweiss network.”

And bookstore owners concur.  Says Tony Herr, from Cape Atlantic Bookstore in Cape May, NJ:

“I love this idea very much and want to utilize it completely. We’ve had an indie section since we opened 2 years ago, but it hasn’t been very diverse since I cannot review everything that comes my way, and so far the indie selections from Ingram have only been offered at 25-30% discounts, (I would happily take more chances with titles if Ingram offered them at my regular discount). I definitely believe this service will go a long way to getting these selections properly reviewed and on bookstore shelves.”

More information on the Indie Reader In Store program.

Guest post by Amy Edelman at IndieReader

Pubslush Explains Literary Crowdfunding

We @MindbuckMedia are psyched to present this guest post by Justine Schofield from PubSlush.com

One thing many authors fail to plan for is the marketing and promotion of their book. Hiring a publicist for your work is one of the crucial steps to publishing successfully. If you think about all the time, dedication, and grueling hard work every author puts into writing a book, don’t they owe it to themselves to use the proper marketing and promotion tools to get their book out into the world?

Yes. Yes, they do. But as with many aspects of publishing, publicists can be expensive and many self-publishing authors are more focused on producing their book than effectively marketing it. However, with the power of crowdfunding, authors can raise funds to pay for services, such as hiring a publicist, that they may not have been able to afford out-of-pocket.

Pubslush2Crowdfunding is a means to raise funds for any business or creative project by collecting small monetary pledges from a large group of people. Crowdfunding has seen great success in the fields of publishing, technology, film, and more. Prior to the rise of the Internet and the online marketplace, entrepreneurs were solely dependent on the conglomerates of their industry to fund the creation and marketing of their products. Of course, we know the conglomerates of the publishing industry are the publishing houses. Now, though, authors have access to publishing technology and with crowdfunding they also have the opportunity to raise funds pre-publication.

Crowdfunding allows authors to utilize their pre-established network in order to mitigate the financial risk of publishing, gauge the initial market viability of their book, and ultimately, make their book the absolute best it can be.

So, you may be wondering how exactly this whole crowdfunding thing works.

In order to create a campaign an author must:

  • Submit an excerpt of their book, usually about 10 pages in length.
  • Provide a summary of their book to give the reader an overview of the plot.
  • Create a personalized video, explaining their book, why they wrote it, and why people should support their campaign.
  • Create reward levels at varying monetary amounts to create incentive for people to support their campaign.
  • Add additional information, such as pictures, Q&A, and website and social media links.

Creating a campaign is the first step, but authors should be aware that just like writing a book, crowdfunding requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • A lot of planning is required before the launch of a campaign. Campaigns are time sensitive, lasting 30-60 days, so it’s important to have an extensive marketing plan and create a buzz around your campaign before it goes live.
  • Have creative rewards. Developing fun and unique rewards will entice people to support your campaign at various levels. Also, it shows people you’ve taken the time to really think about your audience, which they will appreciate.
  • Provide a support level for everyone. Offering a reward tier as low as $1 ensures you aren’t excluding anyone from being able to pledge to your campaign. After all, every dollar counts!
  • Have a loyal pre-existing network, both personal and professional.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to the people in your network and ask for their support. Asking is the key to success. Many people feel uncomfortable asking others for financial pledges, but every supporter receives a reward, most often the final product, in exchange for their pledge.
  • One of the most important things about conducting a crowdfunding campaign is to keep the momentum going. You will have to be as excited (if not more!) and dedicated to your campaign on the final day as you were on day one. Your crowdfunding campaign will be your job for its 30-60 day duration. But, on the bright side, at the end you may be able to hire a publicist for your book and not have to continue the intense marketing and promotion aspect by yourself.

Crowdfunding can be an incredibly powerful tool when people are informed and dedicated. Learn more about crowdfunding for books and see if you could be the next publishing success story.

Justine Schofield is the communications coordinator of Pubslush, a global crowdfunding platform for books. Authors can raise funds, understand their audience, and self-publish or traditionally publish their work. Justine graduated from Emerson College in Boston, MA with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing and is currently enrolled at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, earning her MFA in Creative Writing. She specializes in social media and public relations, has held various freelance editing and writing jobs, and her work has been published in many online and print publications.

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Tuck and Roll with Camille Cole

Camille_Cole_quoteIf you’ve published a book, you’re part of the secret society who know the truth—the grim facts. It’s not glamorous or lucrative and it’s not over when you think it’s over—as in: your manuscript is on its way to that glorious world of publication. The munchkins and book faeries will take over now and you can lay back, sip something pink out of a sugar-coated glass (don’t poke your eye out with the paper umbrella) and dream of the next genius project.

Remember that screeching sound in Wiley Coyote cartoons? This is the part where the road runner dashes up to your deck chair and says, “You did line up the book reviews months ago, right? You at least checked with the publisher?”

“Huh? Wha?”

“Book reviews, you idiot!”

Listen, I don’t know about you, but when I’m ironing out the third or fourth version of a manuscript, I’m writing!! Right? The faery princess is taking care of those mundane details for me, the arteest, right?

Well apparently not, or apparently this is not a god-given outcome. Apparently, if you want the book-launch to line up with sales and media attention and all that, you better clone yourself and hustle, huck, and jive your way into the hearts of book reviewers, get your galleys in front of the eyes of journalists—and anyone who writes about anything related to the topic of this thing to which you’ve dedicated a good (or bad) portion of your life. Or hire someone to do it for you—someone who knows what they are doing and whose reputation rides on yours. The marketing department at your publisher’s place is busy, and they don’t really understand the kernel of your book—only you do. Oh, and they’re on salary and get paid no matter.

What marketing department, you say. Exactly. It was all a dream about an imaginary world, like Mad Men.

So here’s what I learned: by not knowing these simple facts it’s going to take longer and will be harder for me to help sell my book. I didn’t say impossible because if you’ve ever completed a book project, you don’t believe in the power or implication of that word. (For my first two books, I just figured that books for teachers don’t get reviews and sell slowly by nature, that my publisher was taking care of it all.)

The-Brass-Bell-promoCover-221x323My latest book, The Brass Bell, really matters to me. It’s personal. As my father used to say, “Why do you have to learn everything the hard way?” I hope the answer is because I learn it better that way. If you’ve ever tucked and rolled out of a moving vehicle, and I have, you know it’s possible to avoid permanent damage when things go wrong.

Camille-FirstL-Color-266x365Camille Cole

http://cherryroadschool.blogspot.com/

www.camillecole.com