How not to be a jerk when you promote

Hi, peeps!

Happy Friday n’ all a’ that. Oh, and don’t forget to turn your clocks forward this weekend, if you’re in a place that does that whole Daylight Savings Time thing. If you’re not, well, stay asleep.

ANYWAY. Let us discuss some promotional tips. Please start with this blog by fab spec fic author Delilah Dawson titled “Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work.”

And then, after you get pissed at her, read the follow-up, “Wait, Keep Talking: Author Self-Promotion that Actually Works.”

Okay. The point of Dawson’s first post was to get you thinking about how you go about promoting your work. Everybody knows you have to do some kind of promotion. But there are good ways to do it and not-so-good ways. Dawson lays out the not-so-good ways in the first post. And then she lays out the better ways in the second.

I like to think of self-promotion as “not being a jerk” and I already subscribed to Dawson’s approach before I actually read her blogs. So here’s a list of 10 things I recommend, culled from my own experience and Dawson’s advice, with regard to self-promotion as an author.

Shall we?

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Contract killers: more on publishing

Hi, peeps —

I’ve been thinking about publishing contracts over the past few weeks (ooo! Exciting!). Not because I want to sign you up for one. But rather because I’ve seen a lot of them and I’ve even drafted a few of them during my publishing days. And one of the things I’ve noticed is that a lot of times, they’re heavily weighted toward the publisher.


I bring this up here for authors to think about, but also so readers can get a sense of a little bit about a publishing contract and what kinds of things authors find in them. And some of you readers may be future authors yourselves, so hopefully this might be helpful for you. 🙂

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When indie publishing really freaking works

Hey, peeps!

Caught this article in the Wall Street Journal about author Hugh Howey and his runaway hit, Wool. It’s a postapocalyptic thriller that has sold more than half a million copies and generated over 4,000 reviews on Amazon.

Source:, re-sized here

Read that article at the WSJ. Howey worked his ass off to write Wool (it started as a short story, but caught on), and he approached publishing with an eye to promo and working hard to generate an audience. To that end, he turned down several publishing offers from major houses so he could retain his ebook rights (he’s made over a million bucks off Wool). What all did he do? Well, here:

Mr. Howey comes across as a charming, self-deprecating goofball (he posted a video of himself doing ballet on his lawn on YouTube after he signed his publishing deal), but he’s proven to be a savage negotiator and slick marketer. He sent free copies of “Wool” to book bloggers and reviewers at Goodreads, a social-media site for avid readers. Early raves prompted more people to try the book, and the reviews snowballed. “Wool” now has more than 12,500 ratings and around 2,200 reviews on Goodreads. He hosted an “Ask Me Anything” session on the popular website Reddit, fielding users’ questions for more than 12 hours. He encouraged fan art and fan fiction set in the “Wool” universe; his readers have designed book covers and written their own novella-length takes on the story. He conscripted 30 of his most ardent fans to be “beta” readers who edit early drafts of his books for free.
Source: “Sci-Fi’s Underground Hit: Authors are snubbing publishers and insisting on keeping e-book rights. How one novelist made more than $1 million before his book hit stores, Alexandra Alter, Wall Street Journal (March 7, 2013)

Did you read that paragraph? He used Reddit, Goodreads, and encouraged fan fiction and fan art. And he enlisted 30 of his most ardent fans to serve as beta readers of his drafts. And he turned down giant deals from traditional houses until he got the one he wanted.

I brought this article up to you, dear readers, to demonstrate how much publishing has changed even in the past 3-4 years. Savvy indie authors are writing really good books and generating fan appeal and then, if they’ve got Howey’s chops, they’re incorporating their fan bases into their writing processes and promotion, as active participants. And I think it’s important to note how Howey took charge of his writing life, and held out for the deal that worked best for him.

Not to suggest that what happened to Howey is going to happen to every indie author out there. It won’t. That’s the hard truth of writing. Howey wrote a book with a theme that is super-hot right now. It’s fortunate that he loves science fiction and has been reading it since he was a kid. The WSJ notes that the entertainment industry was looking for another “high-concept dystopian” (and/or postapocalyptic) hit like Suzanne CollinsHunger Games. So Howey wrote a great postapocalyptic story and slowly built a fan base by releasing it in installments and working the social media sites. It took off. Kudos to him for how he approached indie publishing, and for what’s happened to him.

That said, the lesson here for all of us who do indie publishing exclusively or non-exclusively is to treat it like a job. Be professional. Put out professional work that is professionally edited. Give it a professional-looking cover. Interact with your fans (both extant and potential), and be willing to lose lots of sleep to constantly promote your work and build that fan base. It’s a win-win. You get to write stuff you love, readers get to read stuff they love. So give them a good product.

And don’t just take any deal that comes down the pike. Think about not just short-term, but long-term as well. Good luck!

Happy reading, happy writing!

Publishing biz stuff, and randomness

Hi, sexies!

I know, I know. Everybody’s rushing around for the holidays, gettin’ crazy. That’s fine. I hope everyone maintains their sanity and stays safe.

Okay, just to point you to a few things that you might find groovy. I do blogs over at Women and Words now and again that deal with the business of publishing for readers. That is, readers who might be curious about what goes on in the bowels of the industry.

Here’s one on royalties.
And here’s another on the editing process a manuscript goes through.

And here’s my handy holiday gift guide!

There you go. Don’t want to keep you too long. More randomness tomorrow, I think.


Print ain’t dead yet

That’s the news from the BEA — BookExpo America, a giant-ass convention/conference with tons of publishing and book vendors, filled with book freaks, books, and all things books and publishing.

Publishers Weekly notes:

Despite the way e-books dominated the publishing conversation over the past year, it was obvious from the moment one set foot on the volume-packed BEA show floor that the printed book is still very much at the center of the publishing industry.

Check out that article, because it notes that the philosophy of booksellers and book publishers isn’t necessarily that electronic media will replace print, but rather that the two can complement each other.

Case in point. I purchased a Kindle for myself a few months back and what I decided is that it’s not quite like reading a book. It’s a different medium, and that doesn’t make it bad or good. It just makes it different. I appreciate the ease of taking my Kindle on a plane, and having it in my backpack when I’m out and about. I love the ease of downloading titles, and I really enjoy being able to “sample” a title before I buy it. I also like that I can buy things like The Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers, Toqueville’s Democracy in America, and Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl for around a dollar.

I also like that I can try writers out for a couple bucks or less, though I would also like an option to “rent” ebooks, too. Hell, I rent movies on Netflix. Why not do the same for ebooks?

Anyway, I like the ease of having a bunch of classics right at my fingertips. But it’s not the same as taking a book to a coffee house, opening it, and reading it. And I still use my local library quite a bit, because I like that my tax dollars pay for books and I can go and check ’em out, read ’em, and take ’em back because I’m in an anti-clutter phase at the moment and I like that anybody can have access to books that way.

So no, I don’t think ebooks will replace print books. Not any time soon. But I do think they can complement each other, and I think that’s a great and wonderful thing for publishers, readers, and authors.

Happy reading, happy writing!

Interesting new writers’ site

Hey, folks–

I came across this today while running around the interwebs. It’s a new site geared toward helping writers of genre fiction called Book Country.

Those genres: romance, mystery, fantasy, sci fi, and thriller. Those genres are further broken down into subgenres.

This New York Times article explains it. The site is affiliated with the Penguin group, and in its initial phase, writers will be able to post their work and get critiques from other users and/or comments about writing craft and various aspects of the work that was posted for free. Later on this summer — to generate revenue — Book Country will launch a self-publishing venue for a fee by ordering printed copies. The books will bear the stamp of Book Country, and not Penguin, because it’s considered a separate venue.

The site will also provide info for writers with regard to things like finding an agent, marketing and promotion, using social media as an author, and handling things like digital and subsidiary rights. It’s being spearheaded by Molly Barton, the director of business development at Penguin. Book Country hopes to attract editors and agents and even publishers scouting for new talent. Hopefully, Book Country will allow authors to create more polished work and attract attention from the industry.

Sounds intriguing. Keep yer eyes on this one, kids. It might prove an interesting hybrid model from big publishing to self-publishing.

Happy writing, happy reading!

Things writers should NOT do

Hey, folks–

You may have heard this one before, but here it is again. This link has been making the rounds through the writing/reading community as an example of how authors should NOT respond to reviews.

Yeah. Um…I’m embarrassed for this author, who ends up coming across as, unfortunately, unprofessional and unable to deal with critique, whether constructive or not. The author then made it a lot worse and responded in the comments section (more than once), with more of the same behavior. Yikes! The author even told someone to “f*** off.” Holy career enders, Batman!

Give me more! Yes, more! Click on…

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