Thursday, November 28, 2013

My SFContario 4 Schedule, Including Free, Open to the Public Workshop

Book Marketing without B.S. is taking a week off for U.S. Thanksgiving. Check back next week for #5. In the meantime, I will be at SFContario 4 this weekend (as will my husband. As you can see below, I am not the only Bambury out there!). Saturday is a busy day of panels for me, and Sunday I am running a free, open to the public workshop that will help you create a marketing and publicity plan for your creative work.

Take a look, and if you see me, please say hello! I promise I don't bite. Talk a lot, maybe, but no biting.

Finally, don't forget to check out my recent guest post by Effie Seiberg, all about doing conventions on the cheap.

A Hard Hobbit to Break, Ballroom BC, Sat. 9:00 AM
James Bambury (M), Colleen Hillerup, Beverly Bambury
Three movies? Does Peter Jackson's approach work? Many fans were disappointed in the first film. Will they continue to watch? What was successful, and what failed, in Peter Jackson’s treatment? What are you looking forward to (and what do you fear) in part two, coming out next month? Come out for a lively discussion of all things Hobbit.

SFContario Idol, Courtyard, Sat. 5:00 PM
Debra Yeung, Sandra Kasturi, Hayden Trenholm, Beverly Bambury
Attendees bring in the first page of their manuscript. A presenter from SFContario will read out the manuscript (anonymously) until a majority of our panel of judges ‘buzz’ the story to a stop. Discussion ensues on why they stopped it, what didn’t work, and what did work. A great exercise in story openings that will provide immediate valuable feedback to the writers.

New Philosophies for Science Fiction, Solarium, Sat. 8:00 PM
Karl Schroeder (M), Tamara Vardomskaya, Beverly Bambury
Looking at the values of the past, it is unrealistic to think that people in the future would think the same way we do and hold our values, yet looking at old SF it's exactly what you do see. How do we get beyond that and come up with new ways for people to think about their new worlds?

Don't Blink, Solarium, Sat. 9:00 PM
James Bambury (M), Debra Yeung, Colleen Hillerup, Beverly Bambury
Do Daleks keep you up at night, checking under the bed? Do the Weeping Angels haunt your dreams? Or are you more likely to cower from The Silence or Cybermen? Are you my mummy? Our panelists discuss which of the Doctor’s monsters or arch-enemies scare them the most.

WORKSHOP- Self-Planning for Self-Promotion, Solarium, Sun. 1:00 PM (90 minutes)
Beverly Bambury
Are you a published author being left adrift by your publisher? Are you a self-published author with only yourself to rely on? A plan will help you decide timelines and create an automatic list of things to do and when to do them. In this interactive lecture you will learn how to create a plan for promoting your book, and learn some research tips and tricks to help you along the way. By the end of the program participants will have initial concepts for their marketing plans as well as an outline of what to do next.This workshop is open to the public!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Calls for Submission #1

Figuring out where to submit your short stories and novels? This is the first of a reoccurring column by Selene MacLeod, who administers Facebook groups Call for Submissions: Poetry, Fiction, Art and  Open Call: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Pulp. Sign up to receive this blog's posts by email; make sure you don't miss useful stuff in the social media shuffle!

Today's post is an introduction as well as a listing. With that, I'll leave the rest to Selene.

Greetings to Beverly's readers! Whenever I see Beverly's name, I always think of that nursery rhyme "with bells on her fingers and bells on her toes." Kind of hard to type that way, but it's a pretty picture.

As promised, I will be giving you a taste of some of the listings that pop up on groups I administer. Aside from the groups mentioned in the intro, I'm also one of the more active members on the groups Open Call: Horror Markets, Open Call: For the Love of Horror, and Open Call: Crime, Thriller and Mystery Markets. I actually "met" Beverly over on Ravelry, so I feel I should also point out that I'm one of the admins on the Poets and Writers who Knit group there. In fact, I'd probably write a lot more if I spent as much time writing as I do researching markets! 

Why do it, if it takes so much time? Well, it started when Duotrope started charging fees. I understand why they do, and it's a very reasonable fee ($5 a month) I don't mind paying, although the debate rages on about markets that charge fees to cover reading costs, and For the Love (FTL)/unpaid markets, and a whole lot of bickering among writers. You can read my blog about FTL markets here, if you like. 

I'm hoping to avoid too much debate here. Instead, I will always try to list markets that pay at least royalties, and stick to speculative fiction (which includes horror, science fiction, fantasy, magical realism/slipstream/weird western, and so on). I will also note if they're paying professional rates ($0.05 per word or more), token-paying, royalty split, etc. If I list a FTL market, rest assured it will be because I think the market is unassailably cool. Likewise, there is the sticky matter of fee-charging markets. I only post if the fee is $5 or less, or if it's a contest where there's a giant prize at stake. Cool factor also applies.

I'm sure if you're reading Beverly's blog, you're familiar with the submissions process, but I will remind you to follow guidelines carefully for every publisher, especially document formatting (William Shunn has the best tips and resources on his page), and to read some samples from the market before you submit. 

Now, on to the good stuff. November and December are going to be GREAT months for submitting work.

Pro Markets Accepting Submissions:
Token and Royalty-Paying Markets Accepting Submissions:
  • Mammoth Book of SF Stories By Women. Reprint market only (must be previously published). Max 10,000 words. Pays $0.02 per word plus a contributor copy. Deadline November 30, 2013. (Note, I find it hilarious that the subject line has to be "MAMMOTH WOMEN.") http://www.alexdallymacfarlane.com/2013/10/call-for-reprint-submissions-mammoth-book-of-sf-stories-by-women/
  • Imaginarium 2014: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. Reprint market. Looking for work published in 2013. Canadian speculative fiction authors only. Deadline January 31, 2014. http://www.chizine.com/content/imaginarium-2014-open-submissions
  • Scheherezade's Bequest. Updated fairy tales, themed issue. From the Sea: Something Rich and Strange. Deadline December 31, 2013. $30 for fiction, $15 for poetry. Max 4000 words. http://www.cabinetdesfees.com/2013/scheherezades-bequest-updated-guidelines/
  • World Weaver Press. Krampus Anthology. Looking for dark fantasy and horror stories about Krampus (sort of the anti-Santa Claus). Max 10, 000 words. Pays $10 and a copy of the anthology. Deadline November 30, 2013. (Note: They have enough Santa as serial killer and gore stories, looking for psychological horror). The publisher also has an open call for their upcoming Fae Anthology. Pay rates, deadline, and word count are the same. Looking for dark fantasy takes on the Fae (urban fairies, goblins, pixies, etc.). http://worldweaverpress.com/submissions/calls-for-anthologies/
  • Solarywyrm Press. Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction. Looking for speculative fiction set in the real world, Asia-Pacific region. Read guidelines for specifics. 1000-8000 words. Pays half a cent a word, max $40. Deadline November 30, 2013. http://solarwyrm.com/
  • Lectores Coffee. Literary market, but slipstream/magical realism would work. Looking for short fiction (no more than 500 words), creative non-fiction, and poetry. Must be short, as the entire piece has to fit on a coffee label. $1.50 submission fee (or $6 with a coffee sample). Pays $25 and a bag of coffee. http://www.lectorescoffee.com/pages/submit
  • Chupa Cabra House. Primarily a horror market, has several anthologies open. Stories should be 3,500-9,000 words. Pays royalties, although some anthologies also offer a token payment (check guidelines). Upcoming: Small Town Futures (apocalyptic stories set in small towns, deadline April 1, 2014). New Whakazoid Circus (Circuspunk, which encompasses horror, bizarro/slipstream, must be a circus/freak show/carnival setting, deadline January 31, 2014). Weird Westerns, deadline February 1, 2014.  http://www.chupacabrahouse.com/search/label/submissions
I'll be back in a couple of weeks with more listings. In the meantime, if you're interested in a cool vacation and want to work on your horror writing, consider a retreat at the world famous Stanley Hotel (basis for The Overlook in The Shining) next October. 

How Far in Advance to Hire a Publicist and a Book Marketing Plan Timeline: Book Marketing without B.S. #4

Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach. My goal is to help you cut through the bullshit with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow. Send your questions to beverly@beverlybambury.com.

Today brings another pair of related questions. The first is "How long before my book comes out should I hire a publicist?"

It depends to a certain degree what you're looking for and on how in-demand the publicist is. My business is relatively young, so six months is plenty of lead time for me, and I can absolutely work with much less if required. I've even done emergency publicity!

Ideally, for prose novels, pre-work work for publicity should start anywhere from 4-6 months before release (for long lead-time review spots such as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Library Journal). It is helpful to give your publicist plenty of time before that to plan and, if necessary, work with your publisher. Graphic novels and comics can work with a bit less lead time.

While this represents the ideal, it's possible to do good work with much less time, too. Just bear in mind that for the biggest and busiest review spots that if you don't give them at least a few months you aren't likely to get reviewed. Other than that, 1-3 months is plenty for most reviewers and for setting up a lot of your publicity.

What if you try it yourself and suddenly realize, right before (or right after) release that you want some help after all? You can get help at the last minute, too, but it's important to understand that many major spots won't accept books that are either close to or post-release. Many excellent reviewers and sites will; however, so all is not lost. Just realize that you're not going to get The New York Times from a book that is already released. Not even John Scalzi's Big Idea, for that matter.

So for you TL;DR types: the best time to contact a publicist (at least for this publicist) is 5-6 months before release, but anything can work (even post-release books) as long as what you expect from your results is realistic.

The next question is "What timeline should I use to plan my book marketing?"

As  I mentioned above, if your book is eligible to be reviewed by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Book Slut, and other long lead-time publications., then send those review copies/galleys out 4-6 months before release date. Send these with a one-sheet, which is important to include with mailed copies.

For the rest, you'll query. (Unless they say it is OK to send a book, of course, then you send the book with a one-sheet or via email/NetGalley, depending on the reviewer's preferences.) A query is just seeing if a blogger or reviewer wants to look at the book and of course an offer to send one. As far as the timing, my assumption is that you've read other websites' and publications' and bloggers' review and publicity submission guidelines. If you have, you'll know how to stagger the rest of the schedule. Some will need to go out 3-5 months, some 1-3 months, some 5-6 weeks. This is one of the more time-consuming things: finding the right targets and making sure that you have them scheduled correctly. Don't be shy about writing these down in order or using an electronic calendar to keep track. 

Make sure that as you query--particularly blogs and media you know accept guest posts and do interviews--ask for what you want from that site. Something along the lines of "If you like the idea or the book enough, I'd love the chance to do a guest blog post for you. I can do it on (sample topic 1) or (sample topic 2), or if you have something you'd like to hear about, I'll gladly write that instead."

2-4 months before release: if you want to set up book signings or readings, now is the time. Note that very popular reading series, such as KGB, may require 6-7 months of lead time. 

3 weeks to release date: handle your correspondence and write guest blog posts as required. If you have an interview or need to finalize any in-person events, make sure you have what you need. If you do book signings/talks, then you'll want a poster of some kind to take with you.

What about those queries? Once it's been 2-3 weeks, it is OK to follow up with people to whom you have sent QUERIES. If you've already sent an actual book (often those long lead time publications from above,) then don't follow up. While we're at it, if you ever send a press release (and usually you do not send those for books,) don't follow up on those, either. Anyway, queries you can follow up, but they should be super polite and low pressure. 

At release time and after: make sure you're meeting your deadlines and following through on commitments. If you get a good review or a guest blog or an interview, share it. Share when your book is released, too. Anything like that is fine. A bit more often on Twitter than on Facebook. Don't forget though: if all you do is push your books, people will stop listening to you.

You may also find it helpful to revisit 5 No-BS Twitter Tips for Authors and 5 Steps to a Quality Blog Tour

Anyhow: this is a very rough and basic guideline. Each project will have to be planned based on its own requirements and based the resources of you and your publisher. As always, let me know if you have any questions about your situation.

That's all for this week. Keep an eye out for the first of the semi-regular calls for submission columns. 

Keep those questions coming, and sign up to get my posts sent directly to your email by clicking here. Thanks for all the support!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Cheapskate’s Guide to SF/F cons: A Guest Post

Today's guest post by Effie Seiberg goes through some handy tips on travelling to conventions on a tight budget. It would be easy to extrapolate some of these tips into general travel on a budget, too. Part of why I put out a call for this topic is that beginning in January I'll be full-time freelance, and paradoxically, this means I'll need to go to more conventions in a professional capacity. But. You know. With less income. So thanks again to Effie for all of her tips, and I'll be seeing you around at as many conventions as I can manage in 2014.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, so in January I did the exact thing people tell you not to do: I quit the “real world” for a year to write. Writing full time is fantastic, but with no income coming in (and a professional need to go to cons) I had to be very strategic about which I went to, and how. The fear of starving and dying is a great one to promote some frugality, but I still managed to go to FogCon, BayCon, Westercon, WorldCon, and ConVolution. So, here are some tips on keeping the costs way down but still getting your con on. 1) Prioritize.
There are a million awesome cons, and you’ll need to balance how awesome they are with their costs. The most expensive parts are usually the plane tickets and the hotels, so if there are any close to you where one or both of those don’t apply, start there! I’m lucky enough to live nearish to where several local cons were held. I also added WorldCon as my one expensive con, just because it’s so big, has amazing people there, and has the Hugo awards.

2) Keep down the travel costs.
I live in San Francisco, where I’m lucky enough to have several local cons around me. FogCon was in Walnut Creek (an hour away), BayCon in San Jose (an hour away with no traffic, three years away with traffic), WesterCon in Sacramento (90 minutes away with no traffic, until the end of time with traffic), and ConVolution in Burlingame (20 minutes away).
Driving: If you can drive or take public transit to your con, it’s probably going to be cheaper than flying. Cons frequently have parking validation for whichever hotel they’re in. At ConVolution, a daily $33 parking pass turned into a daily $10 parking pass. Carpooling with other local buddies is good to split gas and parking costs.
Flying: Airfare: If you must fly, set up a fare alert for your route in advance on a site like airfarewatchdog.com, and wait a bit. It’ll tell you how the price of those tickets might be changing day by day, so you have an idea of what the cheapest flights really are. You can also use a site like hipmunk.com to find cheap seats, but bear in mind that they don’t include some of the smaller, discount airlines like JetBlue or Southwest, so you’ll need to look those up separately.
Flying: Everything else: Airports are great ways to squeeze you of your hard-earned dimes. Bring a solid snack to help avoid the temptation of the tiny $7 bag of M&Ms, and pack everything into a carry-on to avoid baggage fees. You can do a whole week’s worth of stuff in a single carry-on, and I say this as a gal who likes her hair products. It takes a bit of tetris-ing, but it can be done.   
3) Keep down the lodging costs.
This is the second large cost of any con, and is often the biggest. If you’re relatively close by, drive back and forth and avoid it altogether. Yes, it’s a pain to drive 90 minutes home when you’ve already gone to several parties, but you’ve just saved $170 by doing so. If you must use a hotel room, you have several options.
Find it cheap: the con will have a discounted rate at the preferred hotel. That’s great, but there may be even better deals nearby. For WorldCon, the con hotel was about 30% more expensive than the hotel I found, and my hotel was closer to the conference center where everything was held. Look on sites like hipmunk.com and expedia.com to see what’s around. You can also try airbnb.com for cheap rooms, but they’ll usually be a bit farther away from where the action is.
Split the costs: roomies are great! If you have a friend from a writing group, a fan board, a costuming club, or whatever, share a room to split the cost. As a bonus, you’ll have someone to talk to late at night.
Crashing in a room: your mileage may vary on this one. As a female I’m disinclined to do this unless I know the people very very well. But that said, if you do know people who have a room and don’t mind you crashing there, you can usually get a cot from the main desk (at Westercon it was $15/night) which you can roll into the room. If there isn’t room for one, you can DIY it by asking for a lot of extra pillows and blankets, and build up your own little nest in a corner. You’ll get weird looks at about the 5th extra pillow, but it’s worth it. Lay a line of pillows down to make a makeshift mattress, then a blanket on them to roughly keep them together, and then you plus a blanket and another pillow go on top of that.
3) Frugal food.
At a con, you’re running from place to place with barely any time to get anywhere, so scouting out a cheap place to eat isn’t always an option. Hotels know this, and charge exorbitant amounts for what is often really bad food (thanks, $6 coffee swill that’s been sitting in the bottom of the coffeemaker all night).
Bring your own: Yeah, I’m the person with granola bars and fruit in my bag. They don’t take up a lot of room, and you can quell your munchies quickly. If you’ve driven, you have a whole trunkful of space to put food to bring with. Nuts and granola bars have protein to keep you sated, fruits and veggies have fiber to fill you up, and most of them don’t need refrigeration. (Protip: do not leave your fruits in a very hot car all day. Apples might survive, but softer fruits like cherries will ferment and stink. I tell you this from experience.) Bring some cookies and such to share, too!
The con suite: The Secret Masters of Fandom at one point decided that cons should give out food, and hooray for them. Con suites usually have light snacks like fruits and veggies and cheeses and chips, plus coffee. They ask that you don’t just use the suite for your three squares a day, but you can wander in and grab what you need. Especially free coffee. Did I mention the coffee?
But everyone’s going to a restaurant: Yeah, sometimes this is what’s going to need to happen. If your favorite author invites you to join and you get starry-eyed at the mere mention of their name, you’re going. You can either go nuts and suck up the cost, or you can fill up on other food prior (your own, the con suite) and just order something light. You’ll still get to go, and a single appetizer won’t set you nearly as far back.
Drinks: This may be the hardest one on the list. You can of course bring your own, but then you’re that sad person drinking alone in their room. Most parties will just give you alcohol, so start with those and get your drink on. If you’re going to barcon (you know, where people have their own little con at the bar), you can always order a ginger ale instead, which is far cheaper. Especially since you still have your buzz from the parties.
4) The Dealer’s Room, the Art Show
Oh dear god, the dealer’s room. Where merchants specifically attuned to your needs and interests bring out their wares and spread them in front of you appealingly. And then the art show, where you find everything your walls have been missing. A few good ways to keep to your budget:
The "Little Luggage" Technique: Only buy what you can fit in your existing, tiny luggage. And you’re already squashing a fair amount of stuff into just a carry-on.
The "Cash Only" Technique: Set a budget in advance, and put it in cash in your wallet. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. No plastic.
The "Gifts Only" Technique: If you can justify it as a gift for someone, great. Nothing for you though. Those are too easy to justify. The enormous broadsword is awesome, but would your brother really appreciate it enough for you to spend the cash? Nah, he’s not that cultured.
5) Happy Tech
I don’t know about you, but I need my devices happy and healthy for a good con experience. I take my laptop for taking notes, my phone for following what’s going on on Twitter, and a veritable rat’s nest of cables.

Connectivity: The rule is that the nicer the hotel, the more they’ll charge for wifi. Different hotels will give you differing amounts of connectivity, but most will have free wifi in the lobby. Hang out there when you can, when you need your internet time. If you have an unlocked phone, or a plan with tethering, you can make internet happen through your phone instead (this is what I tend to use). Do be aware that if you’re going through your phone, you may need to pay attention to how much data you’re using. You don’t want to hit your limit and get throttled. And finally, you can avoid all of this if you go phone-only for everything and not even bother with a laptop or tablet. Unless you’re in a black hole or the bowels of the San Antonio Conference Center, a few bars will do the trick.
Power: Not exactly a frugal trick, but keeping your devices charged keeps them usable, which sometimes tells you when someone has an extra case of beer/cupcakes/whatever that they need help getting rid of. Bring a power strip, and you’ll be everyone’s new best friend.

So there you go. You can get pretty cheap with cons and still get to go to a bunch while avoiding the whole “starving and dying” thing. Have fun!

Effie Seiberg lives in San Francisco near a sculpture of a pirate bunny with a skull in its mouth. She's a graduate of the 2013 Taos Toolbox writing workshop and is shopping around her first novel, a comic fantasy which is a snarky romp through chaos theory, with an ostrich. In a previous life, she worked in Silicon Valley tech. In a previous previous life, she was a lab rat with machinations to take over the world. Things change.
You can follow Effie on twitter at twitter.com/effies or on G+ at google.com/+EffieSeiberg, or just check out effieseiberg.com if you don’t feel like committing to continued interaction.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Coming Soon: Calls for Submission Column

In the next week or two I'll have the first of a reoccurring column aggregating calls for submission. It will be by Selene MacLeod who also administers the successful Facebook group Calls for Submissions (Poetry, Fiction, Art).

If this is what you like to see, sign up for email notifications of new posts so that you don't miss a thing!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Changing/Correcting Guest Posts or Interviews, and More Replying to Reviews: Book Marketing without B.S. #3

Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach. My goal is to help you cut through the bullshit with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow. Send your questions to beverly@beverlybambury.com.

Today there are two related questions. The first person asked "What if I want to change an interview or guest blog post reply after it's already gone up?"

Naturally, if there is an error of some kind--whether factual or typographical--you should politely ask the journalist or blogger to make the change and explain why if it isn't obvious.

I can't think of any other reason you should ask to change something you've already vetted and has been published. It is possible you'll be embarrassed by something you've written, or realize it might have been more clear stated another way; but, those aren't good enough reasons to ask for a change.

If you're worried this may happen, have one or two trusted friends read through what you have written and give feedback. At the very least, try to finish a day or two before deadline so you can sleep on it overnight and see if you still like it in the morning.

The next question was "What do you think about writers replying to their reviews?" Now, I have already written about this; but, I realized that I could add one more piece of advice.

If you see that the negative reviews have similar themes, there may be something you can learn from them, and it may be worth it to reply in the form of a blog post. Be very careful to not specifically address individuals if you do this. You can say something such as "I've noticed a trend in my 1- and 2-star reviews" and that covers it. You can always link to the book at an online store and people can look at all the reviews for themselves. Plus it's the link where they can buy your book, so there's that, too!

An essay will let you explore your thoughts on the topic without seeming confrontational. I still think the best option is not to address it publicly at all, but if you feel there is interpretation to share, or that you have something interesting to add to the conversation then go for it.

Finally, be careful about tone if you go this route. It's still important to not look like a asshole or a whiner. You are your own branding online, and your choice of words makes a difference. So, as you would with your fictional writing, have trusted associates read through your post first and give their feedback serious consideration.

That's all for this week. Keep those questions coming, and sign up to get my posts sent directly to your email by clicking here. Thanks for all the support!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Social Media for the Misanthropic and the Anti-Social: Book Marketing without B.S. #2

Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach. My goal is to help you cut through the bullshit with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow. Send your questions to beverly@beverlybambury.com.

One of the best things about being a publicist, is that I get to do all the social, extrovert, asking-for-things work that my clients usually don't want to do. I get to give them more time to create, and take away the stress of putting themselves directly out there. Also, given that my clients are overwhelmingly writers of dark fiction of some kind or another, they're frequently put off by other social media tone and content. It's too perky and bubbly. It doesn't feel genuine.

In last week's column about why you shouldn't purchase followers, I looked briefly at the question of "So how do I build audience?" and the imagined comment of "But, I'm dark and serious and not that social. Plus I don't sell glasses. This advice sucks!" I get into the topic a little there, and in this post I offer you a few examples of people whose social media skills I admire.

Note that for this article I am only focusing on Twitter. The reason I am not discussing Facebook more is that Facebook's brand pages consistently decrease in direct benefit, and it's a topic for another day. That said, the general ideas still apply for Facebook or anywhere else. If you have questions, leave a comment and I'll reply to it as soon as I can.

There are a number of people whose technique I admire, but I am going to have you take a look at three specific people: Chuck Wendig, Caitlin Kittredge, and Sam Sykes. All three of these writers share common characteristics that have served them well on Twitter.

1 - They don't focus completely on their own work. They do sometimes post about their work or ask us to buy their books. That's perfectly fine and to be expected. Notice though, that it's overall uncommon. Every tweet or every other tweet, or even every tenth tweet doesn't contain promotional language. As I've said before (and based on what I see on twitter every day, I have to keep saying it over again!) you should focus on being an integrated, complete person on social media. This is our new town square. Do you really want to talk to someone or hang out with someone that says the same thing over and over again? You do? Well, you're in the minority, ya big weirdo.

2 - They are highly responsive. They don't reply to everyone who tweets at them, and really, given the amount of stuff coming at them every day there's no way that they could; but, they do respond often. They interact. They are social. If you ignore every tweet that comes at you and you just broadcast and don't use social media for its intended purpose of interaction, you're missing out. Note: sometimes if you're really famous already you can get away without bothering to reply. Many brands and many celebrities can post announcement-only and that works for them; but they were already famous. You can't do that. You're not famous. (Unless you are, in which case, thanks for reading this far, famous person!)

3 - They use their own voices. They swear, they grumble, they don't use bubbly, insincere language. Once again, they are complete, integrated human beings who sometimes talk about their personal lives, sometimes what they're reading, what they're watching, what they're doing, sometimes about community issues, and sometimes about other people's work. (See #4.)

4 - They build community by sharing the work of others. These people also tweet about other people's work. They understand that a strong community and strong sense of teamwork are their own important mental and social benefit. They also understand that it helps sell more books than isolating themselves and acting like they're the only game in town. Remember (and this may be the most important takeaway) word of mouth has to come from other people. If it comes from you, it's as good as useless. So keep sharing the work of others, keep being a member of a community, lead by helping others up and not by cutting them down.

So what can you, personally, do? I really like lists, so let's have another list.

1 - Listen.

2 - Reply to people when it's relevant, and about what they're into. If you reply to push your work you've already failed.

3 - Listen.

4 - Share an appropriate amount. Aside from replies, you shouldn't tweet so much that people's feeds are overwhelmed. And anyway, what do you have to say that's so important? Don't be afraid to be quiet on the original Twitter content if you're interacting frequently with others. Naturally, if you think of something interesting, fun, or relevant to say, then by all means, say it!

5 - Follow others, even if they do not follow you back. Yes. Read that again. You can follow people even if they don't follow you back. Sometimes you may want to tidy your list, and that's cool. I unfollow people if it's just not working for me; but, if you like what someone is saying, or you like their work, just keep following even if they don't follow you back. Of the people I list in this article, only one follows me back, and that's just fine. I like what they have to say and they don't owe it to me to follow back. If you're really there to meet people and grow audience, being relaxed about this sort of thing is a good start. After all, if you only follow people who follow you back, what quality is your audience, anyway?

6 - Listen.

7 - Like I said in #5, quality over quantity. When you get a new follower that might be interested in reading your book, make sure you check out their feed and reply to something of theirs. Don't tell them about your book in this tweet. Why? Because it's already in your profile and probably one or two of your tweets. It's completely unnecessary and redundant, and makes you look desperate. Also see the link in #8.

8 - DO NOT FOR ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY USE DIRECT MESSAGES TO PROMOTE TO YOUR NEW FOLLOWERS. Read this. (And yes, this relates to that point in #7.)

9 - Share different types of content. You can share pictures, you can share links (and try to say why you think they're interesting if you have characters with which to do so,) you can share other people's work you think is good. And yes, sometimes share your work, too.

10 - Social skills and listening: I maaaaay have said something about listening already (maybe), but I want to reiterate, read what people are saying. Reply. Don't make this all about you. It may seem like a paradox to say that getting people to like you is not about you, but in many ways it isn't. Social skills may not come naturally to you, but they can definitely be learned, and if you need to do your own marketing and promotion, it's worth your investment to really stop and look at your behaviour honestly.

So, like I said last time: you won't have a million followers. Respect the ones you have. Cultivate them. Give them the kind of experience you want when you follow people on Twitter.

Thanks for joining me once again. Let me know what you think, and you have my deep appreciation for reading this far. I hope you come back again, and if you're forgetful like me, you can sign up by email.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Guest Blog: Small Press Tips & Lessons from the Booksburgh Book Store Hop

Today's guest blog is by Jennifer Barnes, of small publisher Raw Dog Screaming Press (RDSP). She organizes social media and events, and today she's come by to share her experience organizing a madcap day in which RDSP took over Pittsburgh, doing a reading/signing each hour for five hours, at five different locations. Even if you aren't a publisher, you may find some of these hints useful in organizing events with your writing group or other writer friends. Enjoy!

Heidi Ruby MillerOver the years RDSP has done all kinds of events from gigantic book fairs like BEA to readings in a decommissioned lunatic asylum. It takes a lot of planning to get the most out of events and you can learn from each one. We recently did something we hadn't done before which was a 5 author bookstore tour of Pittsburgh. It was a bit hectic but lots of fun and a great experience. I think a one-city tour is something that could be duplicated by others to good effect so I thought I'd share some tips. 

First I'll give a brief description of how it worked. Five reading/signings were set up at different bookstores, each was scheduled for an hour and they were back-to-back beginning at 1pm and going through 6pm. Each store hosted one of the participating authors so every author got a chance to do a short reading and answer audience questions. You can see the photos we took from the event here.

Stephanie WytovichOne thing that worked well was that most of the authors hopped to each location and were on hand to sign their books. This meant a lot of cross-exposure between authors. I noticed that at each location there were people who clearly came for the featured author; but at the same time they often became interested in one of the other authors.

It was also helpful for someone to briefly introduce all the authors at each stop. Often the featured author who would introduce the others. Having multiple authors is the key to drawing in a larger audience.

We had several attendees who hopped with us to each location. This gave the whole event a party-like atmosphere. We were lucky because our event was planned by a local (thanks Diane Turnshek!) and was sponsored by an organization that supports Science Fiction (PARSEC) in Pittsburgh. These connections were important for getting locals to attend. The authors were from nearby but none lived in the city itself.

K. Ceres Wright, Al WendlandAnother thing that worked well was that all of the stores were very different from each other. One was a University bookstore, one a co-op, another primarily dealt in magazines. We also hopped to a mall store and a traditional used bookshop. This gave us exposure to all sorts of shopping venues.

It's important to be flexible with your sales arrangements to accommodate each venue. We had two stores that ordered in advance; one paid upfront, one was invoiced. The co-op let us sell our
own books while the mall store required signed paperwork. 

Matt BettsThough the stores were very different they were all in fairly close proximity. Even so, it was a little hectic trying to get to each store in time. The author who is being hosted should be prepared to leave the previous event well in advance to be sure to be on time.

This kind of event is best suited for a mid-sized city with a lot of bookstores, like Pittsburgh. However, I could see it working well with spots like coffee shops and bars if your city doesn't have enough stores in close proximity. If the distance and travel time between the locations is too great that could cause problems. We did have a few people getting lost between stops. It's not necessary to have 5 stops though, a 3- or 4-stop author tour might actually work better.

Perhaps the most important tip I can give about bookstore events is to think of them as advertising not sales events. When/if you sell copies that is just the icing on the cake. What you are really doing is advertising your book. You get to do that in three ways:

Jason Jack MillerFirst, when you promote the event you obviously mention that you'll be signing and reading. It gives you a chance to mention your books without begging people to buy them. Next, if possible arrange with the stores in advance to have some kind of book display and signage advertising the event. The even itself is an advertisement because as you travel to each location you get to describe your book to whoever attends. And finally, you should do a post-event wrap up for every event you attend. Share pictures (you must take LOTS of pictures) on social media, blog about your experience, publicly thank the stores who supported you. 

These are all ways to advertise your book without actually mentioning it. Compare this kind of advertising to a print ad and you'll see you get way more bang for your buck. What you've invested is mostly time and gas money with the potential to make very strong personal connections with a few people as well as impress a larger number online. Print ads cost hundreds of dollars but never result in a personal connection, only appear once and are easily forgotten.

all authors' books available
A note about turnout: hope for the best but expect the worst. It's hard to get people to come out of their houses. Things like scheduling conflicts and weather are unpredictable and can prevent people from showing up. This is not a fail and happens to famous authors too! Try to make sure you have at least one close friend or family member that's guaranteed to show, enjoy spending time with the other authors and have fun. If the turnout is low you don't need to mention it in your post-event press. People will see how much fun you had and vow to make it to your next event.


Jennifer Barnes, Chris StoutJennifer Barnes is managing editor of Raw Dog Screaming Press which is currently celebrating its 10th year publishing "fiction that foams at the mouth."