Author Self-Promotion That Works…

Worried you’re wasting precious writing time banging away at the social media drum trying to sell your book? I’ve just read a great author blog by Delilah S Dawson at whimsydark.com. A traditionally published author who also “plays about with self publishing on the side”, she talks about author promotion that might just work – and what certainly doesn’t. Great advice. I liked the blog that preceded it, too: Please shut up: Why self promotion as an author doesn’t work. Both these blogs are from last year, but good intel doesn’t have a sell-by date.

And no, I don’t know this writer at all. It’s just refreshing to hear some honesty on this subject, instead of the usual message about how we have to promote ourselves by joining the big — and so boring — not-so-merry-go-round of social media. Lots of good information here.

Worth checking out.

Kay Leitch
Author of   Treasure This
Founder member of   Electrik Inc

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Posted in advice for writers, author self promotion that works, Delilah S Dawson, how to promote your books, how to use social media to promote your writing, Kay Leitch, Whimsydark.com | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philip Pullman Resigns From OLF

Iniquitous is a good word. I use it only when I believe something is very wrong, very unfair and, at the same time, reeks of dishonesty.

So while I’m sorry to hear Philip Pullman has resigned as patron of the Oxford Literary Festival, I applaud his defence of authors being paid for their time and work. I applaud his suggestion that the OLF, which would not exist without authors, should pay them to speak at their festivals. And I applaud the Society of Authors, of whom Pullman is the president, for campaigning for authors to receive fair payment for speaking at literary festivals.

“Expecting authors to work (because it is work) for nothing is iniquitous,” Pullman says. “It always has been, and I’ve had enough of it.”

Yes, authors get a bit of “publicity”, yes, it’s good for “exposure” and, if they’re lucky, they might sell some books and make a few pounds – though the publisher will make more. But by now everyone knows professional writers and authors are becoming an endangered species because of the many predators out there: from the seemingly benign publishing houses, who slash advances and royalties to protect their own profits, to Amazon (you know why), to every other parasite determined to exploit the creative industry and get something for nothing.

There will always be those ignorant people who bleat that books are overpriced anyway, so why should authors get any more. What do they care that profits go mainly to publishing houses or that most working authors are lucky if they earn £11,000 a year?

It’s a pity Pullman has resigned over this, but I agree wholeheartedly with him. If we value writers, artists, musicians – all creatives – then we must be prepared to pay them for their time and work. There are many other book festivals that do pay their authors to speak – and manage to keep ticket prices reasonable – just as they pay their caterers, electricity companies or directors (though Sally Dunsmore and her team of mainly volunteers put the OLF together without pay, if the Oxford Mail’s report is accurate).

Even so, expecting authors to work for nothing is iniquitous. Try telling the caterer or the landlord the exposure will be good for them, and that they’d better have a nice big private income to fall back on when they offer their services, because you ain’t paying for them. Yeah. That’ll work.

Check out this humorous take on the subject at u-tube.

Kay Leitch
Author of   Treasure This

Posted in authors' earnings, Campaigm to pay authors fair fees, campaign to pay authors fair fees, electrik inc, festivals that rip off authors, Kay Leitch, Oxford Literary Festival, Philip Pullman, Philip Pullman resigns, Society of Authors, Treasure This, Uncategorized, what authors earn, where is the money going?, writers being ripped off | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Waterstones Can Teach Writers

Don’t you just love mavericks?

Stephen Heyman writes on slate.com about how Waterstones’ fortunes changed for the better when Alexander Mamut, described by one broadsheet as: “The most powerful Oligarch you have never heard of”, bought Waterstone’s (when it had the apostrophe, but no profit) and put James Daunt in charge.

Waterstones_WDaunt was already a very successful businessman. He founded Daunt Books in Marleybone High Street in 1990 when he was just 26, and ended up running six independent book stores across London, all of which remained profitable even in difficult market conditions. The first thing Daunt did as Managing Director of Waterstones – apart from getting rid of the apostrophe – was to tear up the existing business plan for the failing book store and implement his own, rather unconventional, ideas.

He took power away from publishers and gave it back to the book sellers, promoting what he believed would sell rather than what the publishers wanted to advertise. All those “Best Seller” spots in the window of big book stores didn’t actually mean the books were best sellers. The publishers paid for those spots.

The great thing about Daunt, in my opinion, is that he’s not an accountant, a marketing executive or a PR man. He trusts the book lovers he works with. One thing he said made me laugh out loud: when he discussed his individual marketing plan and how he wanted to shake up the business he loved, he knew publishers would not be happy with his decision to cut their advertising space in his stores. “But,” he said, “we had the advantage of being bankrupt…” Talk about turning a negative into a positive!

He also gave each Waterstones almost complete autonomy over how to arrange their merchandise. So, no more homogeneity, where Waterstones in Glasgow looked exactly the same as the one in Chiswick. Each Waterstones looks different, individual, inviting. The one thing they all have in common is good books, tailored to individual local areas.

What has this got to do with writing and publishing? Everything. Rules are great when they work, and lethal when they don’t. Sometimes we’re so used to following old rules and procedures we don’t realise they’re so past their sell-by date they’re doing more harm than good. Many publishers have been following restrictive rules for a long time: pay lots of money for advertising space in shop windows (take it out of authors’ earnings) … tick. Avoid risks … tick. Ooops, not making so much money – cut authors’ earnings a bit more … tick. Watch the rise of independent author publishers…

I love that as independent publishers we are the mavericks of the publishing world. We’ve stopped trying to second guess anyone, least of all fickle publishers, and write what we want to write. We make it the best we can. Yes, we follow the rules of editing, punctuation and good grammar. Yes, of course we’re aware of the market, but we don’t let it tyrannise us. We don’t jump on band wagons for the sake of a quick buck – we don’t let the bottom line dictate what we write. Where’s the joy in that?

We can’t all be the kind of maverick James Daunt is. But we can learn from him. If you make any resolutions for 2016, make them be to trust yourself, ignore the “rules”, and write from your heart.

Kay Leitch
Author of  Treasure This
This blog was also published on electrikinc.wordpress.com

Posted in Children's books, creative writing, independent publishing, James Daunt, Stephen Heyman | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Successful Marketing for Writers

Any writer who wants to see patience and perseverance in action, read this piece by Claire Kirch in Publishers Weekly, on Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin. He self-published his children’s book The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep about five years ago, in Sweden, and it has slowly built up a strong readership over the years, becoming a best-seller, and gaining the author a seven-figure deal with Penguin Random House.

Carl-Johan explains how sales grew slowly, how he enlisted friends and family to help him translate the book into other languages so he could self-publish abroad; how he used social media to help spread the word, giving away e-book editions of the title on Facebook, and how sales took off. This took years. Patience, perseverance, and yes, hard work. Good for him! I’m delighted to see success like this come to someone who has put the effort into one piece of marketing after another.

This is a book for children, but I think the lessons apply to any writer interested in independent publishing – or traditional publishing (because most publishers will expect you to do a lot of marketing on your own). Whether you like the book or not, whether you write for children or not, the lessons in marketing work. Keep at it. Try everything. Don’t give up. You never know when some outside force will pick you up and run with you, and lead to that “overnight success” so many writers dream of. Remember: if the plan doesn’t work, change the plan – not the goal.

Kay Leitch
Author of  Treasure This
F
ounding member of Electrik Inc

Posted in Children's books, creative writing, editing and publishing, how to market your book, independent publishing, Kay Leitch, marketing your novel, secrets of writing a best seller, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

WHAT AN IMBECILE REVIEWER

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even literary fascists. But shame on The Guardian for publishing this pretentious click-bait drivel by Jonathan Jones. It’s bad, lazy journalism and offensive elitism on every level, which would be more at home in The Express or The Mail. What a poor excuse for a supposed critic Jonathon Jones makes when he can’t even be bothered to read Sir Terry Pratchett’s work but is happy to disparage it. What breathtaking arrogance. Jonathan seems to enjoy wallowing in attention-seeking behavior without ever being aware how deeply offensive his snobbery and prejudice is.

And just to be clear — if someone doesn’t like Terry Pratchett, that’s fine. I have no problem with anyone who has read him saying they don’t like his work. We’re all different, after all. But don’t be rude about a writer without reading him or her. And certainly don’t pretend to be a professional reviewer with that kind of appallingly lazy and ignorant attitude.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a phenomenally gifted writer (and, according to a friend of mine who knew him, also great fun and a great man). Jane Austen was gifted, too. So is Cormac McCarthy, and a slew of others. So was Sir Terry Pratchett. One talent does not cancel out another. Only an imbecile, or one steeped in the cesspool of cultural snobbery, as Jonathan Jones is, would believe this.

“Actual literature may be harder to get to grips with than a Discworld novel,” he writes, “but it is more worth the effort.” What excrement. What is “actual” literature, Jonathan? Tortuous syntax? Impeccable insight into human nature? Big vocab?

I’ve often said how disappointing it is that dross surges in the book charts (Fifty Shades of Shit is one such), while beautiful works languish. Mr Jones’ error here (or, one of them), is to mistake popularity with poor writing. Sir Terry Pratchett’s writing is popular because it is so very good. It’s wry, funny, observant, incisive… his imagination off the scale, his talent peerless. He was a first-rate satirist. So when some cultural illiterate with a poker up his bottom says he’s hasn’t read any Terry Pratchett, but delights in criticising him and those who read him, it’s a bit like someone with the IQ of a toilet roll saying, “Well, I’ve never seen a da Vinci painting but so many people like his work, he’s bound to be rubbish.” The only thing that’s rubbish is Jonathan Jones. And I say that having actually READ his turgid prose.

He says “I’m not saying this as a complacent snob…” No, Mr Jones, complacent isn’t the word I’d use for you. But it does begin with a c.

Contemptible… Contemptuous… There are so many….

Kay Leitch
Author of   Treasure This

Posted in Bad Journalism, Bad Reviwers, Jonathan Jones, Kay Leitch, Lazy Journalism, Sir Terry Pratchett, Terry Pratchett, The Guardian | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Authors Using a Pen Name

Great post by Frances Caballo on The Book Designer with some good tips on using a pseudonym and how to market yourself. It often makes sense to use a pen name if you want to write in a different genre, but there can be problems marketing yourself as a  new name or brand, especially if you’ve already built yourself up a fan base in one genre.

Still, lots of authors manage it successfully, so I thought I’d pass this on as worth a read, in case any of you are looking for ideas.

Posted in creative writing, marketing your novel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Top Writing tips for Children’s Authors

For all the children’s writers out there, the Guardian online has a great feature with excellent advice from editors shortlisted for this year’s Branford Boase award.

The award is for excellence in writing as well as in editing, so this advice comes from people who know what they’re talking about. Some of it is common sense (well, it should be by now 🙂 ): cut and tighten, don’t overwrite, and avoid long convoluted plots, but there are lots of gems in here for writers in general, not just those writing for children.

Check it out here, at The Guardian.

 

Posted in Children's books, creative writing, editing and publishing, Kay Leitch, secrets of writing a best seller, writing, writing as a career, writing tips, writing tips for children's authors | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment