Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Debuting 101: Everything In-Between

Finishing up the Debuting 101 series I planned on finishing in, oh, February (oops), here are the final three questions about what happens after you sell a book:

What's the process after the sale and before the book comes out? 

You would think the first thing that happens after the sale of a book is a contract. But oh, you patient writer, you'll be waiting for that for months yet. You're much more likely to received your edit letter in that time, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months after the deal is finalized. When you receive said edits, you'll be given a deadline to return them. Then you might go through another round of edits, depending on your editor, or your editor might send you this magical little file called [your book title]_FINAL.doc and fireworks will go off, birds will sing your name and stars will align in the shape of your title as you realize this thing you wrote is done. For reals. Forever.

After a small panic attack caused by said realization, the next thing that happens is a cover, which is basically the most amazing part of the whole process, because a complete stranger is about to mash 60,000+ words you wrote into a picture. Your publisher will likely ask if you had anything specific in mind - a symbol used in the book or a certain scene that was really important - as well as asking what you don't like to see on other book covers. They they'll come up with something magical (or potentially devastating, in which case you should share your thoughts with your agent asap), and in my case, I was asked for feedback. Once you, your editor, and the publisher are happy with the cover, it's considered final, and it's on to the next step - copy edits!

Copy edits give you a chance to make small changes to the text in case you've been having anxiety nightmares about a misspelled word you missed on page 106. But any big changes like new scenes or deleting scenes: ship has sailed on that one. Copy edits are meant to catch all the grammatical errors in the text. Proper use of commas, names, sentence structure, etc. Most copy editors will respect stylistic choices you've made that attribute to voice, but don't be afraid to decline a suggested edit if it's not right for the book.

After copy edits, the sun breaks through the clouds and you get these fantastic things called first pass pages. This is the first time you'll get to see your book laid out as an actual book with the right fonts, chapter headings, bold/italics, page numbers, etc. This is your last chance to catch any typos, weird spacing, missing pages, or other errors that might have been introduced in copy edits. After you approve these and send them back, that's all, that's it, and may the Lord have mercy on your soul, because the next step is a BOOK.

I'm realizing as I type this that I could write a whole essay on what happen after the book sale, so I'll try to paraphrase the rest: After first pass pages come advanced reader copies, which will be sent to trade reviews like Booklist and Kirkus, and also any bloggers who are interested in reviewing your book. Marketing and publicity efforts will also start now, and you'll likely be posting prearranged messages to your social media accounts to build up hype, while your publisher pulls their strings with Barnes and Noble and Amazon, etc, to get your book in stores. I also used this time to set up some local events, plan my launch party, order bookmarks, and all that good promo stuff. See my post on marketing here if you want more about that.

What kinds of interactions you have with your agent after the process: where edits go to, etc?

After I sold Duplicity, I was fortunate enough to have only a minor revision letter, so I passed my edits directly to my editor. If I'd done more substantial changes, I'd have sent the book back to my agent for review as long as I could still meet the deadline. Really, it depends on your working relationship with your agent, and how comfortable you are sending raw edits directly to your editor.

Beyond Duplicity, my superhero agent has remained my writing cheerleader, helping me pursue additional marketing opportunities with my publisher and working with me on new books.

What was the biggest surprise?

Aside from a publisher actually wanting and buying something I made up out of my own wacky brain, I'd say the biggest surprise was the awesome outpour of support from local libraries and bookstores. Places I spent my childhood were suddenly eager to host me for an event that they even invited other people to! AND PEOPLE SHOWED UP, not just my parents and friends! Also, I got to sign a shirt on a person. As in, someone wearing a shirt asked me to sign their back. I don't know if that has anything to do with this question, but there you go.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Debuting 101: Expectations

Continuing my Debuting 101 series, here are the questions I received about expectations and writing while marketing:

How to retain creative drive while promoting a book?

Individual strategies may vary, but for me, it's keeping a routine. I always write in the morning, and only after my hours are up do I allow myself to obsess about things like my next marketing post or Twitter. This is much easier to do if I physically turn off the internet. Otherwise I'm too tempted to check Amazon or Goodreads and Google posts like this very blog topic in an effort to figure out if I'm on the right track.

I'll be honest - the more time I spend away from social media, the more energized and creative I feel. The internet is full of distractions, and you're bound to come across a triggering news story or someone who just wrote 10,000 words in three hours or any number of things that raise your stress levels. If you're worrying about those things, you aren't worrying about your writing.

What realistic, unexpected (not necessarily bad) things should we be prepared for?

Let's start with the good things: your book is going to be doing things behind the scenes that you can't even guess at. You're going to stress that you can't possibly have as many sales as [this book], and then you're going to find out you've just been highlighted in USA Today.You're going to fret that you don't have any starred reviews, and then someone's going to nominate your book for a national award that makes your jaw drop.

More good things: You're going to meet people who think you are the bomb-diggity. They might even hand you a water bottle upside down or struggle with what to say because they are meeting You, a Published Author, and they honor what you do so much. These moments are incredibly cool, and incredibly humbling. Be prepared for people to ask you for advice - about writing, about not giving up - and to take every word you say to heart.

The not-so-good: There are going to be moments where things fall through. Whether it's a marketing effort or a cover you feel is wrong for your book, this business is not perfect. Your publicist or marketing manager (or editor!) might leave the company. They might leave the week before your book comes out. Their leaving might mean the support for your book changes. Your editor might decline your next project, and it might only be because your debut isn't selling as well as they'd hoped.

It's important to remember that this is an industry you have little control over, and so it's best to focus on what you can control: your writing and your next book.

Stay tuned for the next series post - sales process and everything in-between!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Brain to Books 2016 Convention + Giveaway!

The 2016 Brains to Books Cyber Convention is happening now on Goodreads, and to celebrate, I'm joining with fellow sci-fi authors to give away a signed copy of DUPLICITY! You can also win six other awesome books:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out the con on Goodreads and my interview with Belinda!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Duplicity Audiobook on sale for $2.95!

My amazing audiobook publisher, Audible, has selected Duplicity as one of their February Daily Deals! On Feb 19, you can grab the audio version of the book for just $2.95. That's less than a cup of coffee (but lasts oh so much longer).

Click here to take advantage of this deal, and as always, thank you for your support!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Debuting 101: Marketing

So I planned to do just one post on debuting as an author and my experience, but then I realized there are about 4,385,934 other posts on just such a thing, something I should have remembered from my days as an almost-published author when I basically anxiety-read every single one of them. Instead, I turned to Twitter to ask just which questions, specifically, hadn't yet been answered by those four million other posts. And I soon realized I'd need to break my answers up into topics, because it turns out there are still quite a few questions. This is the first of such posts.

Here are the questions I received about marketing:

What marketing worked...and what didn't?

Things that worked: events! Events make real connections. Not only do you meet event coordinators face-to-face who are book-loving librarians/teachers/conference organizers (and have lots of similar contacts), but you meet readers and, ideally, sell a few books right then and there. I always felt these made the most impact, and since I didn't have a big budget, I just did events I could drive to and coordinated bookstore visits in places I was already vacationing in. But I'd have to say my favorite events have been libraries and high schools, where I get to connect with teen readers.

Goodreads giveaways are also something I highly recommend. They reach a much broader audience than your social media connections, and I saw a boost in to-reads each time (like, hundreds each time).

And last, BOOKMARKS. See if your publisher will provide them or at least design them, and order no less than 500 right now. These have come in so handy when I'm meeting new people and they ask what I do and what my book is called. Instead of having to awkwardly write the title on the back of a crumpled purse receipt, I just whip out one of those bad boys and instantly they have the correct spelling of my name, the book title, a short pitch, and the cover art. I've used these at dinner parties, the dentist, a childbirth class, indie bookstores, when I'm introducing myself at libraries, etc. I have five or six on me at all times.

Things that didn't work... honestly, I'd have to say: everything else. At least, everything I tried to do online. I received little interest for things like bookmark and book giveaways (except Goodreads), or preorder reward packages like signed swag/prizes in exchange for a receipt. I even created a fun personality quiz I was sure was going to be a hit - that didn't end up doing much. That's not to say you shouldn't try these things. If you have a substantial social media following and a lot of buzz around your book, these would likely be very effective. But with a more modest following, I'd focus on extending your reach - doing interviews/guest posts on other blogs, and reaching out to local libraries and schools to see if they'd be interested in hosting you for an event.

What kind of pre-pub marketing did you do?

Though I had a pretty small personal budget for marketing, I was lucky enough to have a team assigned to me at Macmillan that came up with some cool social media ideas on how to market Duplicity. They also coordinated complimentary copies of my book to send to select independent bookstores, got the book stocked in Barnes & Noble/Amazon/Book Depository, etc as well as libraries, designed bookmarks for me, and shared my marketing posts on their social media accounts. You can see many of the pre-pub posts I did here (scroll down to those posted before March 17). I also did some Goodreads giveaways for ARCs and signed books, which I felt helped me reach the most new readers.

What is the publicity process?

If your pub assigns you a publicist, she'll handle all this for you. ARC requests and event/interview requests will typically go through her, and behind the scenes she'll be sending your book off for trade reviews, arranging interviews with your local paper and/or radio shows, ensuring your hometown libraries stock the book and know you're in the area, and sending your book off to major publications like USA Today in the hopes that they might spotlight you. Actually, I'm realizing as I type this that that's probably just the tip of the iceberg. You can request your publicity plan from your publisher to see what they'll be doing for you, and if your publisher doesn't assign you a publicist, there are a number of independent publicists you can hire that I've heard good things about.

Of course, this is only my experience with marketing and publicity and is a pretty narrow representation of what to expect. Google widely, or at least take a moment to check out Saundra Mitchell's For Authors series.

Stay tuned for the next series post - expectations!

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