Sunday, May 5, 2013

So, you want to be published? Here's what publishers WANT!

So, you've written your masterpiece. You've poured your life blood into a piece of work, and the only logical next step for you to take is to find a publisher to pick up your work. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. The journey to finding a publisher that will give you the time of day, none-the-less consider your piece to be added to their library can be a daunting task. 
How can you stand out?

As a publisher and owner of Peak City Publishing, an independent book publishing company located in Apex, North Carolina; I'd like to provide you with a few tidbits of valuable information for you to consider before presenting your written work for publication. 

What Publishers Want:  A Ready-Made, Engaged Audience
In the ideal writer’s world, authors write good stories, get books published, collect royalties and go on star-studded, best seller tours. Readers wait in line for hours in advance, as if it’s Black Friday just to get an autograph.  After a while, the author gets to move to the country home to crank out series after best-selling series.  Evenings are spent sitting by the fire, reading fan mail and considering which production company is best suited to deliver the book as the next blockbuster Hollywood hit of the century.
And then, there is the real world.

Most publishers have finally caught up with the realization that regular people who write well can also sell their books better than anyone else.   And, writers with an engaged social media audience are more likely to sell books than a writer with just a good book.  As a result, a lot of traditional publishers have put the onus on the writer to have a ready-made, engaged audience before consideration of a title.  They are looking for your Social Media Capital or in more precise words:  the number of people who follow and engage with you on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.  

For a lot of authors whose primary interest is writing books not reinventing themselves to be social butterflies, building up Social Media Capital seems like daunting task, but look at it this way…your social media sites become part of your star-studded book tour.  Keep in mind that you are doing this for your audience of potential readers, publishers, agents and Hollywood production companies. 

Imagine this…
You are meeting your audience in the places they hang out.  You are communicating with them in the language they prefer.  You are giving them more insight into how your writer’s mind works.  You are finishing the next book in the series, having a glass of wine, smoking a cigar or playing with your cat.

Follow the 5 tips below to get started.

1.       Establish your blog or website as your studio/work place/corner of the coffee shop where you pirate the WIFI for hours on end with the purchase of a small coffee.  This is where a reader will find you when he/she wants to meet you.  Here, your reader will find your biography, pictures, book titles, ordering instructions, event listings and how to contact you for speaking and signing events.  This is a great place to post your “work papers” – i.e.  blog entries, such as:
·         Descriptions of your current projects
·         Character descriptions
·         Alternate book endings
·         Interviews with other authors, and
·         Any other fascinating topics they want to know about your work, genre, etc

2.       Create a PINTEREST account to invite other pinners to your website or blog.  Think of it as an event invitation. 
·         Install the PIN IT button on your browser bar
·         PIN pictures from your website or blogs to your pin boards.  This will link users back to your workplace. 
·         Consider using different pictures reflecting your interests, hobbies, inspiration, sense of humor, characters or scenes in your book
·         Follow other PINNERS, like their pins and repin them to your boards.

3.       Create a FACEBOOK page for your readers to check in on you and chat understanding that your readers may only be able to tolerate two posts per day – one in the morning and one in the evening.  Post status updates letting them know:
·         How you’re doing and what you were working on before you took a break to check in with them
·         Any ah-ha moments or challenging issues you have overcome
·         Any upcoming events you are scheduled to attend (doesn’t matter if  it’s your event or someone else)
·         Pictures or Videos
·         If you’re not in the mood to chat, SHARE from someone else’s post
·         Post Daily – at least once, no more than twice a day

4.       Use your FACEBOOK tools to build your audience.  On your page, begin by:
·        Inviting friends (close, estranged and pretend) from your personal FACEBOOK page. 
·        Invite your entire email list
·        Search for other FACEBOOK pages in your area:  local businesses, libraries, organizations, etc. and LIKE each one. 
·        Search their LIKES and like the pages they have liked.  
·        Search for authors in your genre and like them too 
·        Rinse and repeat daily or until FACEBOOK warns you that you may be using the tool wrong and if you continue, you will be blocked

5.       Create a TWITTER account and link it to your FACEBOOK page.  Every FACEBOOK status update you make will automatically be tweeted to your followers.
·         As in FACEBOOK, you need to find your audience.  Search TWITTER for local businesses, libraries, organizations and FOLLOW each one. 
·         Subscribe to TWEETAdder (FREE EDITION) and set your account to automatically follow and unfollow people to build your base.
·         Use TWITTER as a creative writing tool to tell a story in 140 characters or less
·         If you can’t think of something nice to say, retweet someone else – he or she will probably respond in kind thanking you for the RT which will go out to all of his or her friends.  They, in turn, learn you are an author with a best seller in the works and may decide to follow you too. 

See how easy that was?  The cool thing - you get to go on tour every day.  
  • Your audience knows where you work and how to get in contact with you.  
  • They can share and repin your pictures, inspiring words and invitations to get to know you better.  
  • They know you hang out where they hang out – on FACEBOOK - and can find out what you’re up to twice per day.  
  • Your audience will come to recognize your awesome creative writing skills through bite sized messages on their TWITTER feeds and 
  • You, the author, can bask in the glory every time someone follows you, repins you and likes and shares you.  You are a writer with an engaged audience building your social capital!

Give your readers what they want, when they want it and in a format they prefer – start your book tour today!

Don't just tell them, show them!

Shiloh Burnam is an NC resident, small business owner, wife and mother of two. She has a full time career as a project manager at Verizon Business as well as a thriving publishing company: Peak City Publishing.
As a former book store owner, Shiloh became passionate about the many aspiring and talented authors in the area.  After publishing two short story anthologies written by young adults, she officially opened Peak City Publishing.  Peak's mission:  engage, entertain and educate through books and multimedia products.  Since 2010, the company grew from 2 titles to 16 titles in children's and adult fiction.  Peak authors and artists are active community members and participate in events to raise awareness and educate in today's social issues.  Find out more at our website or connect through facebook.