Friday, September 28, 2012
Not only have e-books brought a whole new dimension to the publishing world, but now books can be released in stages. It used to be that a book was published in print, and that first print run was the first initial launch. You only got one chance to launch your book and that was it. Now things are changing and books are being released in stages, and so our book launches will need to reflect the same timing scale.
For instance, there are several small publishers who might first release a book as an e-book, and later if the sales do well, they will release it as a print book. My first two books were released as print, then e-books, and most recently as audio books through iTunes. With these changes, we need to begin thinking differently about our promotional strategies.
Those who are clinging to traditional promotional strategies that were strong when print books were King in the market will soon find themselves behind the times and losing ground, if they aren't already experiencing it. Don't get me wrong, traditional promotion will always be necessary and prominent, but it will come to hold a different place in the scheme of things.
A perfect example of this is traditional book tours where authors host book signings versus online book tours. More authors are hosting online book tours, Facebook and Twitter parties, blog scavenger hunts, and video conferencing. They are cutting back on the expense of traveling around to physical book stores, readings excerpts, and signing books. Online book stores are easier on both the author and the readers.
It can be attended right from the comfort of their home, doesn't require expensive lodging, flights or gas mileage. The online attendance is often much better than a physical book store because readers are also in the comfort of their home where their children can continue to play, spouses can take over a other duties for dinner and baby sit while readers take a few moments to participate in the online book launch party. It isn't necessary for them to get the kids dressed, miss a church or school PTA function, and drag themselves across town or to the nearest town with a book store.
It's perfectly acceptable for the author to plan an e-book launch, then when the book comes out in print, plan a traditional book launch. If you know the dates ahead of time you can create a book launch campaign that includes these various stages. In my case I had no idea my book was about to come out on iTunes. My publisher sent an email out on the loop. In that case, I couldn't pre-plan so I simply tweeted and posted the news on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
My advice is to begin planning as soon as you can, jot down some ideas, do some research on cost, timing and the logistics on carrying out the plan. Form a realistic budget and stick to it. Be reasonable about the amount of time and energy you will be able to devote to it. If you need to hire a publicist to do a few things that you cannot do yourself or you don't have time to do, create a plan for what you CAN do and a different plan for what you expect your publicist to do. Then research publicists, talk to a few and find someone that you feel comfortable doing business with.
Remember, think of your book launch campaign as something that will happen in stages. Times have changed.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Most publishers like to know there is a series possibility with a project but that it can stand alone. I encourage people when they first start writing a project to decide a series concept for a couple of following books right then. You don’t need more than a nice sized paragraph on the overall concept to put in a “series potential” section in your proposal, but it’s good to have it right from the beginning and it’s even better to have the concepts in the back of your mind from the beginning.
For one thing it can help you set up a following book as part of your writing task if you have them in mind. You may have ideas that do not fit within the project that you are working on but might fit in one of the other books and you can toss them in a file for the book to use if and when you start on it.
You can make sure you have the necessary characters for series books in the first one and can make sure they are set up correctly and can make sure the over-riding theme is established. Doing these things will add depth to the book that you’re working on even if the series does not materialize and it is fated to be a stand alone.
I told one lady not to use the word ‘trilogy.’ A publisher is then being presented with taking three books or none at all. If they are presented with a stand alone that has series potential they can take the one book, they can decide to take all three (and maybe get the second and third cheaper than if the first book is successful) or they can take the first one and option the other two and wait to see if the first book is successful. Or the publisher can decide to do the book as a trilogy. I prefer them to be the one to decide that instead of pitching it that way. Giving them these choices makes the project much more attractive to an editor.
A publishing house invests money developing an author, and they are more open to doing that if they can be sure there is more in the pipeline to justify the effort and expense.
Should a book be pitched to have series potential? Absolutely.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
The Carol Awards are ACFW's recognition for the best Christian fiction published by traditional publishing houses in the previous calendar year.
The winners of the 2012 Carol Award are:
Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott (Thomas Nelson)
The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Revell)
Long Contemporary Romance
My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren (Tyndale)
Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott (Thomas Nelson)
Long Historical Romance
To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House Publishers)
Falling to Pieces: A Shipshewana Amish Mystery by Vannetta Chapman (Zondervan)
An Accidental Christmas from A Biltmore Christmas by Diane T. Ashley/Aaron McCarver (Barbour Publishing)
Lonestar Angel by Colleen Coble (Thomas Nelson)
Lakeside Reunion by Lisa Jordan (Love Inspired)
Short Contemporary Suspense
Nightwatch by Valerie Hansen (Love Inspired Suspense)
The Deepest Waters by Dan Walsh (Revell)
Broken Sight by Steve Rzasa (Marcher Lord Press)
Fallen Angel by Major Jeff Struecker/Alton Gansky (B & H Fiction)
Dandelion Summer by Lisa Wingate (Penguin Praise/Berkley)
The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan)
Congratulations to all of the winners but especially to Suzanne Woods Fisher for winning the Long Contemporary Fiction slot with her title The Search, published by Revell
Suzanne is Joyce Hart's client.
We will return to our regularly scheduled program of First pages next week.
Last week's brave author was Rick Barry. Please check out Rick's inspirational adventure novels, Gunner's Run and Kiriath's Quest. Stop by his blog/website for a visit. rickbarry.blogspot.com
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
How much can you cut from a published novel—and still have it reflect the original story?
I've pondered that as I've been acquiring audio books for an upcoming road trip to Phoenix, Arizona. I plan to attend a book-collector's convention, so all summer I searched at garage sales and thrift stores for audio books by the authors who will be attending.
The main author has been writing since the mid 1970s, so many of his books were published on audio cassettes. (I drive one of the last cars built with a cassette player.) An interesting thing about those books on tape: while a version with the entire text of a novel contains twelve cassettes, the audio versions of some of his earlier books contained just four. If there was comparable time on each cassette, then only a third of the text made it onto tape.
I can't blame just the cassettes. I've acquired some similar novels on CD that came with five disks. But when I looked in the library for audio books by the same authors, they contained twelve and even fifteen.
If you had to cut two-thirds or even half from your novel, what would you omit—and what would be left? Listening to the five-disk version of Jack Du Brul's adventure novel Havoc, I was shocked to realize the entire opening chapter—fifteen pages dramatizing a maguffin-carrying passenger's experience on the final flight of the German airship Hindenburg—was gone. Better than nothing, yet in some ways like the false-front buildings on the street of a movie set. If you want sub-plots, don't listen to a shortened audio version.
But this past week I did see one book on cassette whose short original length meant the full version could be presented on just a few tapes—even if the labeling did make me shake my head:
The Bridges of Madison County—Unabridged
Monday, September 24, 2012
Sitting in front of my computer, I’m half listening to the bullriding championships on the small tv that sits on a stand next to my desk. I like noise when I’m working unless I’m reading. But I digress.
As I watch these fellas getting bucked off, I wonder just what makes them hop back on again? Because the next time I watch, there’s the same guy with optimism all over his face ready to go one more time in spite of the aching joints and gouge marks in his skin.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Today's contributor has offered us the first page of his YA novel. Let us know in the comment section below, if you would read on or place this back on the shelf.
A scream ripped my attention from the airline magazine. In the next instant, a muffled explosion erupted somewhere outside the airplane.
“They’re shooting at us!” a man shouted.
The Boeing 747 shuddered into a gut-wrenching dive. Instantly my trip to Israel as an exchange student transformed into a pandemonium of shrieking, shouting, terrified passengers.
“What’s happening? Who’s shooting?” I yelled into the chaos.
Was it a fighter jet? Or maybe missiles shooting up from ground launchers? From where I sat in the middle, I couldn’t see whatever the passengers at the windows were shouting about.
A second explosion rocked the airliner.
The grandmother beside me clutched my arm and dug in with eagle talons. “We’re going to crash!”
I still didn’t know what was happening, but in that instant I figured the old woman was right. Only seventeen years old—and I was about to die.
Yellow oxygen masks dropped from the overhead bins. Just as I reached for mine, a final explosion practically blasted my ears off. Just that fast, the airliner was gone! Instead of airplane, I glimpsed alternating blue sky, brown earth, and tumbling wreckage as my body somersaulted through icy air. My lungs gasped for breath.
In terror I shut eyes and uttered a final prayer: “God! I’m yours!”
WOULD YOU READ ON?
Last weeks contributor was published author Marlene Banks. Marlene takes true moments in Black American history and brings these unknown stories to light by wrapping them in fiction. Her third title releases Oct 1st and is titled Greenwood and Archer. Greenwood and Archer continues the story from Son of a Preacherman, a Feb 2012 release. Connect with Marlene at her FB page.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
“Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.” —George Orwell
I've considered that advice this past week as I've been reformatting some curriculum for the writer's group I work for part time.
In a lesson on writing style, the course advises:
“Good writers try to get out of the way of their own messages. They don't try to impress with beautiful words, nice turns of phrase, or fancy sentences that draw attention to their writing ability. … If a sentence draws attention to itself or to the writer, it has to go.”
“Kill your darlings,” Stephen King says, “kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings.”
It's a fine balance—avoiding cliched expressions and finding fresh metaphors that communicate powerfully, but also subtly. This past week I've been re-reading Stephen King's massive novel 11/22/63—taking the time to appreciate some of the nuances of his craft.
Here are some of his well-turned phrases I discovered on my second reading:
● In small towns certain names seem to sprout like dandelions on a lawn in June. (p 126)
● . . . ordered a shore dinner, which came with clams and a lobster roughly the size of an outboard motor. (pp 126-127)
● . . . the color of water beneath a sky from which snow will soon fall. (p 152)
● . . . flooded the room with enough fluorescent light to take out an appendix by. (p241)
● . . . the fall colors began to bloom—first timid yellow, then orange, then blazing strumpet red as autumn burned away another Maine summer. (p 270)
● . . . long autumn afternoons, most hazy and warm. Dusty gilded light slanting down through the trees. At light, a quiet so vast it seemed almost to reverberate. (p 270)
● . . . staring . . . with his mouth slightly hung open. It was the expression of a farmer who sees dinosaurs cropping grass in his north forty. (p 325)
● It was more than a smile; his face was transformed with the happiness that's reserved for those who are finally allowed to reach all the way up. (p 328)
These phrases must not have been his darlings, for which I'm grateful. They're certainly not ones I'm used to seeing in print—or especially in anyone's first draft.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Since you don’t hear from me very often, I thought I would bring you up to date on what is happening at the Pittsburgh office, besides the day to day activities.
I was able to attend the ICRS in Orlando in July. Kathy, my assistant here in the Pittsburgh office went with me. I couldn’t have done the conference without her. We had a great time. We roomed with Diana Wallis Taylor, one of my clients. I met with 26 editors in two days. Since I hadn’t been to ICRS the last two years, it was good to reconnect with editor friends and to meet a couple new ones. It was also great to see many other friends on the convention floor. Kathy heard “Joyce & I go waay back.” quite a few times. I think my first CBA Convention was in 1980.
My birthday was in August and I got three birthday cakes. I’m watching carbs now.
Many friends sent cards and messages on Face Book. It is nice to be remembered. Thanks to all.
Now I’m getting ready for the ACFW which is only two days away. I’m having a dinner for my clients and their spouses. It will be at The La Hacienda in Colleyville, TX at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, September 19. The manager of the restaurant says it is about 10 minutes from the airport. Terry is having a get together for his clients on Friday night at the hotel. At last count I will have 21 authors attending the conference. That’s only the jhart authors, not the whole agency. Terry will have 19 authors there.
If you write fiction, I cannot recommend this conference highly enough. You will have the opportunity to network with other authors, connect with editors and attend many good workshops.
God bless and keep you in His care.