Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Marketing Medusa . . . Don't Let It Overwhelm You!

This week I taped and watched a Lifetime movie a friend suggested, "Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story."  It's a story every writer should see.

I greatly admire JK Rowling's prolific gift . . . I read her story, but I was mesmerized by this film.  It showed her struggles as a young British writer to become one of the world's weathiest women.  How a single mother on welfare with a magical story went from rags to riches in 3 years.  Her beloved Harry Potter series has sold more than 400 million books worldwide, resulting in a billion-dollar film franchise.  And how she was turned down 7 times before being picked up by the Christopher Little Literary Agency in London.

Can you imagine the thoughts that went through the heads of those 7 agencies who turned her down?  It only goes to show . . . Keep on writing, keep on dreaming, and never, never give up!

"Every 30 seconds someone in the world starts reading a Harry Potter book."
I won't spoil the story by telling you more.  It can be seen at My . . . for free.

"Marketing . . . Don't let it overwhelm you."  This is what I tell myself as I sit at my desk pondering what to do next.  Marketing may appear as daunting as a ten-headed monster like the snakes of Medusa.  But I refuse to be intiminated.

Your written marketing plan will help your publisher focus on your book . . . will prove your own commitment . . . and will become a valuable reference tool throughout the publishing process. 
              -Jacqueline Deval, Publicize Your Book

My goal is to develop a well-thought-out marketing plan showing the action items I propose to market my book.  Projects I can undertake on my own, and also initiate if I elect to self-publish.  Research, I've decided, will be more fruitful if I tackle only one or two items at a time.  This will let me savor the adventure . . . rather than dread it.  This marketing plan will be presented with my book proposal, and as part of my query letter.

Notes from:   Publicize Your Book by Jacqueline Deval 
  • Qualities needed to successfully market your book are an open mind . . . curiosity . . . polite persistence . . . and a certain level of boldness
  • Keep an expense log of tax-deductible expenses: phone calls, postage, book-related business travel, express mail, Internet service provider fees, etc.
  • Your job is to provide the product, locate the audience, and then persuade them to buy.

What does your book offer readers?  Who are those readers?  How do you reach them and convince them to spend money on your book?

During my research, I watched the movie "Sideways" again . . . Miles is a distressed novelist who carries his manuscript in boxes in the back seat of his car.  While on a road trip to California's wine country with his best friend, he stops to make a call to his agent.  She regetfully tells him, "They're passing . . . really liked it, they just couldn't figure out how to market it."  He paces.  "It's a fabulous book with no home.  The whole industries gotten gutless.  It's not about the quality of the books anymore, it's about the marketing."

This scene hit me like a flying Frisby . . .

Identify the many target audiences for your book . . . . Does your book fit a specific genre, or does it fall within many?  Where will readers find your book?  Who will want to read what you've written?  These questions will narrow your focus . . .

Target audience . . . I've learned my memoir does not fit the profile of the prolific writer who plans to write multiple books on a specific genre. This adds greater importance to identifying my readers. With this in mind, I decided to target my audience as my action item for the next few weeks.  If I dig deep enough I should be able to uncover the markets I need and others I never knew existed. 

Do you know who your target audience is?

Lesson Learned . . . My Two Cents

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:  What?  You too?  I thought I was the only one.      C. S. Lewis

Monday, 11 July 2011

A Platform . . . Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

SheWrites - Blog Ball #5 

Welcome to the SheWrites Blogger Ball!

Welcome - My name is Nancy MacMillan and I joined SheWrites in April to learn more about Marketing.  This is my first blog hop . . . what a fascinating idea!

My blog is my Uncharted Journey into Publishing my First Book, "Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," a completed memoir.  I share tidbits of myself, my thoughts and the steps I'm taking along this path to reach my goal.  Included are my query letter, table of contents from my book proposal, and an exerpt from my book.  

Thank you for stopping by. Please feel free to look around and leave a comment to say hello, so I can be sure to visit your blog this weekend.

Guilt! Guilt! Guilt!  My head is buzzing with everything I need to do . . . but I don't.  Instead I push these thoughts aside as I continue to pursue my dream, my passion . . . on the road to publishing my first book.
I used to be a perfectionist! Ask my children. That’s the way I was raised, it’s swimming through my veins, playmates with my genes . . . I guess that’s why these pangs of guilt.   
The house is picked up . . . though my office looks lived-in like an old pair of slippers with stacks of books and layers of research. I see dust silently gathered in spots I missed with my Swifter . . . my quickie.  My windows don’t sparkle, my floor doesn't shine, but I do vacuum . . . my carpet is white.  My bulletin board is a rainbow of Post-Its like . . . book flight for reunion and load recycling into car.  Speaking of my car . . . my raincoat and a pair of slacks for the cleaners have been passengers for a month, and my oil change is 1000 miles overdue.
Okay, now that I've had this little rant I feel better . . .     
I had to learn how to fit writing into my daily schedule, whereas marketing and research are more of a challenge with a complicated appeal.  But blogging is like chocolate . . . delicious and addictive.  Do I have a problem?  Maybe . . .   
Now can someone tell me how to fit my daily schedule back into my writing?
Platform development is important for authors, and crucial for aspiring and soon-to-be authors.  -Christina Katz

In the past, a writer could dream of being picked up by an agent and/or publisher who would woo them with the promise of fortune and fame.  But not anymore . . . Today, it's the writer's job to root through the rubble and bang on doors . . . after years spent refining their words, followed by countless revisions, finally giving birth to a piece of work that stands on its own.

My problem, like many others, is that this is my first book and I'm unknown!

No one has analyzed the complexities of a writer's life so painstakingly as Virginia Woolf in her many volumes of diaries.     Joyce Carol Oates

I find the most intimidating part of marketing a book to be the endless avenues that I must travel publically to reach my goal.  If rejections don't toughen a person . . . marketing will.  It's time I step out of my hallowed space of creativity into a world of crashing cymbals and blaring horns.  Not really . . . but the contrast can be equally as stressful.   
I've been reading GET KNOWN before the BOOK DEAL by Christina Katz, and her down-to-earth approach has desensitized some of my trepidation.
Random notes:  Your personality is just the raw material you have to work with when it's time to get out in the world.  You need to physically get your buns out there.  You need to get your real face out in the real world and you need to interact with real live people.  Like rocks in a tumbler, we grow smoother by rubbing up against each other.  Don't hide out!  Come out and play.
See why I like her? . . . Make a beginning.  No launch is too humble when we are talking about stretching yourself as a reader, speaker, and performer.  You have to start somewhere.  So why not try speaking or reading even if you're totally untrained. 
Her words sparked confidence as I clearly saw my "humble beginning" had already been achieved.  My writing class in Santa Barbara, and the first time I read my work outloud in front of a class of 46 students.  I was petrified . . . but each time I read it was easier.

She also suggests: "Children's Story Time" . . .   A few years ago, when I was working on my children's writing, I talked to a local librarian about reading at story time, to observe children interacting.  She said, "Come by anytime."  But I got busy and never followed through.  This goes back on my to-do-list!

She also recommends literary events in your local area.  Fill a chair at one literary event each week.  Take notes on how you might adopt the speaker's skills and strengths in your own presentations.  It could be fun!

A few weeks ago, I learned a church nearby holds a 6-week public speaking class.  I'm waiting for the dates and time.  Once I get over this hump, I should be on my way . . .
Lesson Learned . . . My Two Cents
Below is a recipe from a fellow writer, Lori Robinson, who leads Safari's in Africa, when she's not writing.  She takes these nuts with her on safari for snacks in the bush, serves them to friends as appetizers, and basically can't stop eating them herself.  I plan to make a batch this week, once I shop for ingredients.

Safari Nuts . . .
Recipe:  In bowl mix 2 c macadamia nuts (raw) with 1/4 c maple syrup, 1 1/2 t ground chili pepper, 1 t curry powder, 1/2 t cayanne pepper, 1/4 salt.
Spread evenly on parchment paper covered cookie sheet and roast at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Keep turning to brown evenly and keep from burning.  Once cooled, they will be crunchy.
You can visit her unique blog at . . .

Please note:  I've decided to post every other week for a while to focus more time on marketing and research.  SheWrites Marketing Group has posted excellent material and ideas I want to impliment.  Will miss our weekly visits.   

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Will Self-Publishing Be My Only Option?

I've heard it said, "A publisher will not take your work, if any part of it has been published elsewhere."  This may, or may not be true, but the more I thought about it . . . the more I was compelled.

The writer takes the reader's hand and guides them through the valley of sorrow and joy without ever having to mention those words.                             Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

It's the Fourth of July weekend, commerating the adoption of The Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.  A holiday filled with flying flags and fireworks, picnics, parades and barbacues, political speeches and ceremonies, celetrating the history, government and traditions of the United States of America.

Yet for millions, this weekend punctures hearts still longing for loved ones who served in our military, or who are stationed in another part of the world.  Our warriors . . . our heros.  Young men and women from all walks of life, who have loved and laughed and cried as we do with plans and dreams of their own.

War touches each of us . . . in one way or another.  Our nation is split over the wars we are in, but it's not the fault of our warriors.  They're only doing what they've been told to do by our government.

 A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve - is someone, who at one point wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America" for an amount of "up to and including their life."  (Author unknown)

I'm only one of these millions, but my goal is to reach other families in crisis, locked behind closed doors.  I want them to know I understand and know what they're going through because I have walked in their shoes.  And it's been a long road . . . where happiness was like chasing a cloud.

The effort of memorable art is to evoke in the reader or spectactor emotions appropriate to that effort.      Joyce Carol Oates

My book . . . Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,  begins on July 3rd, and includes the following excerpt . . .  which compelled me to write this blog for today. 


July 3, 1990 . . . I felt like I was going mad

. . . I was alone.  

     Slipping off my shoes, I padded down the hall to my room, trying to ignore the helpless feeling of doom pursuing me.  Fear was now my constant companion.

     I stopped at the doorway.  Across the room, the agitated red light on my answering machine demanded attention.  My throat tightened.  I knew who called and I knew he was drunk.  I wanted to turn and run, but the pulsating red eye dragged me in like a riptide, across the carpet and around the bed.  I hesitated at the nightstand then reached out and pushed the playback button.

     "Nancy, this is Lorne."  His voice was low, barely audible.  "If you don't . . . if you don't really care if I live or die . . . why in the hell did you call 911 when I tried to commit suicide?  I don't understand."

     My heart stopped, I sank to the bed.

     "Would you please come to my graveside . . . and tell me . . . goodbye?"

     Tears spilled down my cheeks as his pain tore through me.

     "Tell me that you . . . that you . . . tell me something!  I need to talk to you . . . or you need to talk to me," he begged, his voice quivering.  "I will die for you . . . if that's what you want . . . if that's the way I have to get," he paused, "right with you.  I will try tomorrow, July fourth . . . to die on the fourth of July for you.  If you will just come to my graveside and tell me its okay," he pleaded.  "Tell me you love me . . . one . . . last . . . time.  Just do that for me . . . "

     "BEEP."  The machine cut him off.

     Lorne's desperate words exploded around me, ricocheting off the delicate green shamrocks in my wallpaper, crashing against my skull.  He was my husband, the love of my life, but his drinking was killing him like it destroyed our marriage.  He was tettering on the edge and I was powerless to help him.

I buried my face in my hands, tears pooled in my palms as monkey chatter swarmed the corridors of my mind.  I pressed my fingertips into my temples, rotating them in a circular motion, trying to make the chatter go away.  Some days I felt like I was going mad.

My heart has since healed, but the love we shared lives on.  So many are still dealing with these demons of war.  My hand, my hope and my heart reach out to each of you on this 4th of July . . . may you find peace.

The answer to my initial question is now out of my hands . . . but I'm not a quitter, and I will move forward.

Lesson learned . . . my two cents 

To be a good writer . . . you must tell the truth, no matter how painful.  And I now know one thing, telling the truth has a healing power of its own.

Love is the most important word in any language.  The second most important word is . . . forgiveness.