Friday, September 28, 2007

What Are You Reading?

This is a fun little thing that we do on some of the industry forums I visit...we always enjoy hearing about what everyone is digging into, and in light of how often we talk about that books sell via word of mouth, well, let's start some word of mouth!

So right now, I'm tearing through Gwendolen Gross's The Other Mother - lush prose, wonderful plotting...I'm really enjoying it. In fact, I even pre-ordered this book because I was so excited to read it, but am just getting to it now because I try to avoid reading anything that I worry might be similar to my own WIP - I don't want to be unconsciously influenced. Now that I've wrapped my WIP, I'm free to enjoy it.

So what are you guys reading and loving right now?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Putting the P in Promotion

I think the subject of promotion is a never-ending one with writers, and it pops up on every writers' board that I frequent. Everyone is always chatting about the most effective ways to promote yourself and your books, and no one seems to have a surefire, solid method, other than maybe Joe Konrath, who is the king of all kings of promotion and seriously, I'm in awe of the man and could never do what he does. But it works for him, so to that, I say kudos.

But yeah, other than Joe, a lot of writers are always rooting around, looking for newer, better, shinier promotional tools (Post-its! Bookmarks! Book club phone-in!), just in case we're missing something that might help get the word out.

I was chatting about this recently with another writer whose book has just been released, and I have to say, it's remarkable how similar writers' complaints and worries are: nearly every writer feels like he or she could have had more push from his or her publishing house and nearly every writer is scrambling to make up that perceived deficit. In my case, I've been really pleased with my promotional team - they continue to support me, pitch the book and line up a variety of things for me - but from what I hear, I do feel like I'm more of an exception than not. Our worries about sales and PR and marketing are virtually universal...after all, at the end of the day, while we might pretend otherwise as we bang out our manuscripts, this is a business, and in any business, what matters is the bottom line: we. have. to. sell. books. Period. Your next book deal depends on it, and your publisher depends on it so they can earn back their advance.

Which brings me to my thoughts for the day: what, really, is the best promotional tool? I think this can and will vary from author to author. Konrath swears by store drop-ins and signings, which again, I really commend him for, but (and this has been hotly debated on Backspace), I don't know that for me, that's the most time-effective way to go. I'm an unknown author, and who shows up to hear an unknown author to read, and sure, I could certainly sell a few more books that way, but I'm also a busy mother of two, and trekking out to dozens (or hundreds, as he does) of stores to introduce myself doesn't seem viable right now, though I do agree with him that it probably leads to better shelf space, hand-selling and all of that. Published authors out there, do you agree or disagree? I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

For me, I really think that the best promotional tool might have been starting this blog. I did it partly to promote the book and partly because I really enjoyed offering a counter-perspective to Miss Snark, a writer's perspective to this crazy industry. And what's been amazing, and I alluded to this earlier in the week, is not that I have thousands of eyeballs and readers and all of that, but via this blog, I've MET so many other writers and readers...and we all champion each other. I've been interviewed on blogs, and I've hosted interviews here; people have talked about my book, and I've talked about theirs. The blogging community not only has incredible power, it's also incredibly open and generous and kind, and so, from the security of my office, I can sit here and get the word out, and also befriend some fabulous folks.

Promotional tools I'm unconvinced of: bookmarks and doo-dads and various things like that. I've never bought a book because I had a pen or a stress ball with a title on it. Have you? (And I don't ask this rhetorically...I'd like to know!)

One new spin that I do think works: Book clubs. I've done a few call-ins for these, and they're not only superfun, they're a guarantee of books sold. So, for pubbed authors out there, if you can spread the word that you're willing to call in, do it. It's a great way to connect with readers, and I'm always surprised at how excited they are to have me! It completely cracks me up.

So pubbed authors, what are your favorite promotional tools? And readers, what are the ways that get you to buy books? I'd love to have a discussion on this!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Another Book Giveaway! Back to COOL!

Man, free stuff has just been oozing out left and right these days. Here's the latest contest from my fabulous friend, Rachel Weingarten, who is an all-around culture guru and who has been quoted just about everywhere, including CNN and a gazillion other places. Her latest book, Career and Corporate Cool, is a must-have handbook for navigating even the stickiest of work situations.

Here's the lowdown on the book:

Imagine if life came with a handbook to help get you through just about every potentially awkward, stressful, or over-the-top situation, with humor, grace, and dignity intact. Life doesn't come with a handbook—but now business does. In Career and Corporate Cool™, style and marketing maven Rachel Weingarten defines and details the elements necessary to succeed and stand out in the modern work environment. It's filled with witty and user-friendly advice on building your personal brand equity in the business world while staying true to yourself. Part business memoir, part hybrid of business and style, Career and Corporate Cool™ is a cheat sheet for your professional life, with fun and helpful anecdotes from people who've been there.

And here are the details of the contest:

For those of you who have been waiting to get your hot little hands on a copy of my new book Career and Corporate Cool- now's your chance! To celebrate the first week of autumn on 9/25 from 9 to 5, we'll be having an all (work) day long promotional event that will include hourly giveaways including an icy cool diamond pendant, gift certificates to iTunes, Sephora,, Barnes and Noble, autographed copies of my book, magazine subscriptions and more.

The rules are fairly simple: Purchase a copy of CAREER AND CORPORATE COOL™ from any online retailer on 9/25/07 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST) and e-mail your receipt to for a link with access to exclusive hourly updated content not included in the book. Once purchase is verified, you will be entered to win the cool prize for that hour, with one grand prize winner announced at the end of the workday.

Visit for more information and complete contest rules.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Blogging for Beginners

Question of the Week: I'm thinking about starting a blog. Can you tell me where to start and how to go about it?

Well, starting a blog is easier than you think, maintaining it is more difficult. To start a blog, simply sign up with either Blogger or Wordpress, and voila, you're a blogger. FWIW, I opted for Blogger because its functionality seemed easier, but I do admit that I like Wordpress's design and layout a bit better. Beyond that, I don't really know the differences between the two, though some readers might, so feel free to chime in on your preferences below.

Once you're up and rolling, well, that's when the work begins. According to some article I read recently, there are millions, literally millions, of blogs out there, so before you start typing furiously away, you should probably assess what you intend the purposes of your blog to be. Will it be something personal for friends and family? A promotional tool for upcoming projects? A way to help hone your writing? An niche outlet on, say, knitting, to reach other knitters? I think that without a purpose, your blog is likely to flounder because a) you won't have much motivation to keep at it and b) you won't have any readers. (Note: these two things may self-perpetuate.)

Once you figure out why you're blogging in the first place, you're faced with your next two hurdles: posting frequently, which takes more time than you'd think, and gathering an audience, which also isn't such a breeze. I don't have any brilliant insights into getting readers other than befriending - genuinely - other bloggers. Take the time to visit their blogs and leave comments. When the time comes, ask for them to link to you. Hone in on your niche - for our purposes, knitting - and maybe participate in some online forums, then ask people to check out your blog. I'm sure that there are other ways to drive traffic - I was fortunate enough to get mentioned in MediaBistro several times - and that certainly increased eyeballs, but I'll also let other readers chime in here with other tactics too.

One wonderful side effect of blogging: I've made a whole slew of online friends whom I'd never have met without the blog. It's a nice and welcome perk when you sit in a lonesome office...even when updating the blog falls to the bottom of my list, I'm grateful that I started it because I've met such awesome people through it.

Speaking of you awesome people, what are your suggestions for this reader? What blogging format do you use? And how can she increase her traffic? Any other blogging tips?