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Sunday, May 17, 2015

On Time Magazine, Humorists, and Creative Marketing


I have lots of favorite humorists and I’ve added a new one. I may be behind the times but I read my first humor column by Kristin van Ogtrop in Time magazine recently. Other than a killer (and funny!) voice, she talked a bit about marketing, specifically about book marketing!
                                
It seems the three British guys who have day jobs in advertising are promoting what she calls “personalized books”—whatever those are—and they’re doing it with a Web site (http://3pregnantdads.com). Seems part of their gimmick is to strap on 33 1/2 pounds of belly and boobs to their bods so they can better relate to what their pregnant wives are going through.

33½ Pounds? Really? These guys are British and they measure their money in pounds, not the weight they gain—or lose!)

They didn’t remove their load until March 15, UK’s equivalent to Mother’s Day in the US. Kristin (the Time humorist) doesn’t tell her readers how many books they sold with this ploy or even how well their Web site was trafficked, but, hey! They landed in Time with a whole column dedicated to this gimmick. So, it seems that achieved at least some of what they were after.

The question is, would you—perhaps a less exuberant author—want to do something this crazy? Well, sure. It wouldn’t hurt to have the knowhow of an advertising or marketing executive and power of your firm behind your shenanigans, should you choose to do it. But the real trick to success is that the scheme you cook up must be something that will catch the attention of the media and that fits well with the book you’re selling. And, oh yeah. Be sure you have plenty of time, money, and/or expertise to do the Web site right. In other words, you must coordinate your site with you chosen visually fun or smart or interesting trick and the media releases you send out.

Just so you know, I’m feeling a little less self-conscious about my idea to cover my ancient (1989) Volvo station wagon with 350,000 miles on it with decals advertising my HowToDoItFrugally books. Unlike most who use similar ideas, I want acrylic pockets on the side that will hold brochures or bookmarks that people can just help themselves to. I could send before and after pictures of the automobile to Kristin at Time.

On the other hand, maybe not. I think these guys with their pregnant tummies make my idea look…well, hardly newsworthy.

And therein lies the best lesson of all. Your gambit has to be newsworthy—with an emphasis on “new.”
 
 
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rarely Recommended Book for Writers, Editors, ESL Students

I am having more fun reading Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation. Sooo, I thought I'd leave a quick recommendation for you.

 I am gleaning tidbits from this book for my ESL (English as a Second Language)  tutoring students and recommending it for anyone who loves English, loves how we borrow phrases and words, and generally gets a kick of what some find aggravating.  Or make a living from it--and that would include editors and writers.
 
Hammacher and Schlemmer calls it “the history of English Idiosyncrasies. http://bit.ly/AggravationEnglish. It should make a great gift for writerly types.



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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Authors Forget How Useful Media Announcements Are!



Refresher on Media Announcements


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Here is a mini excerpt from the second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter—just in case you’ve forgotten how handy using a media announcement can be! If it’s been a while since you reviewed a good format for the usual size media (press) release, maybe it’s time you cracked up your old copy of The Frugal Book Promoter (-:.  It gives you everything you need--even step-by-step formatting!




Media announcements or a different version of your release might be faxed or e-mailed a few days after your first release about an event goes out.

So what's a media announcement?  




Media announcements are shorter and sometimes, to the eyes of an editor, sweeter than media releases. They are especially useful as follow-ups, as introductions to a planned media blitz of well-spaced releases (each touting a different angle), or to notify editors of an upcoming event.


Media announcements read like bare bones invitations. They include:


  • The term “Media Announcement” as a header.
  • Contact information.
  • A captivating headline.
  • A pithy lead.
  • Follow up with the place, time, date, and a resource for gleaning more information.


Media announcements are quickies. Don’t put much more than what’s on this list into yours.


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Saturday, April 25, 2015

It's Never Too Late to Promote Your Backlist Books!



I hope you aren’t stuck in the last millennium. In those days it was a given that books were dead after ninety days.

This is the Internet age and you can now reach millions of people with minimal effort to keep old books—even really old books—alive. Rev up your marketing machine. Maybe your new readers aren’t aware of your old titles. Reissue the old one (but don’t call it a second edition!) even though it will have new pages in the backmatter that list all your titles with links and maybe an excerpt from your new book to encourage readers to buy the new one, too.

Here are some other ideas for promoting your old books:  

  • You could also offer an old one for 99 cents when they buy your new book.
  • Or offer it free to your Goodreads or Facebook customers in return for a review (remember they’ll see your ad in the backmatter for your newest book and maybe buy that one, too!).
  • Bundle your new book with an old one at a discounted price that is less than the new one alone and bill it “Great reading for you and for a friend for less than it would cost for just one book.” 

If you have other ideas about how to promote backlist books (the ones you've published yourself or the ones that were traditionally published) , send it to me at HoJoNews@AOL.com with your name, your old book’s title, and its buy link and I’ll publish it as a tip in this blog and perhaps its companion SharingwithWriters  newsletter, too.


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Answer This Question: Are You a Writer? Author?


Today's guest post is from a longtime writing friend, David Leonhardt. I met him years ago when we cross promoted an e-book with about a dozen authors from different countries. He has an author service business--his way of SharingwithWriters--something that we both have a passion for.  I love this article because so many of my clients seem a bit shy about calling themselves a writer or an author. There is something zen about just knowing that you are. And owning it. Then others will, too. Here is David's wisdom!

Is it OK to call yourself a writer?


The scenario plays itself over and over.  Somebody loves to write.  Poetry.  Lyrics.  A diary.  Essays.  Humor.  Whatever.  They love to write.  They have a pile of unfinished manuscripts and notes, maybe even completed manuscripts that they have never shown to anybody, or that they have tried unsuccessfully to sell.

Thousands of people around the world who fancy themselves to be writers.  But, they don’t dare call themselves “a writer”. 

Why? When can you call yourself a writer?

Maybe the first time you get a byline, whether you were paid or not?  That means that somebody else believes your writing is worth publishing, but not worth paying for.

Or perhaps the first time you get paid?  That poem that earned you $10 in a literary review?  That means that somebody believes you wrote something worth paying something for.

Or is it the first time you get a book published?  Ah, that means an actual company, a real business that knows what it’s doing, believes you wrote quite a bit that’s worth paying something for.  Unless you self-publish, in which case…well, would you still be “a writer”?

Or is it the day you quit your day job – the day that enough people believe you wrote quite a bit that’s worth paying something for?

How many people have to believe in you to define who you are?

One.

No, this is not a trick question.  It’s not even a question about writing.  It’s a question about how you define yourself – or more to the point, whom you let define you.

What you do for pay and what gets published in somebody else’s publication says nothing about who you are.  It says everything about who they are.

Let’s take an example of a writer who has a day job moving furniture.  Yes, a writer.  He writes because that is what moves him, what fulfills him, what makes him complete.  That is who he is.  He moves furniture to buy clothes and food and pay rent.  He moves furniture because he doesn’t want to violate public decency laws, has a stomach that growls and is allergic to freezing to death.  That makes him a law-abiding human bent on survival, not a furniture mover.

He moves furniture for a living because there are more people in town who need furniture moved than need to read his poems or essays or fantasy manuscript.

In fact, a good argument could be made that as soon as a person is paid for her writing, she becomes less of a writer, since the writing begins more to define the person or people paying.  I won’t make that argument here, as that would be a whole different debate, and I am not even sure where I stand on it.

Money doesn’t make someone a writer.  Getting paid to write makes a person an entrepreneur.  Perhaps they remain just as much a writer, perhaps not.

When it comes to language definitions, there is plenty of room for honest disagreement.  But I’ve been a writer since I wrote for my high school newspaper, becoming co-editor in my senior year.  I have been a writer of poems and song lyrics on nobody’s payroll.  I have since become a published author and a prolific blogger.  I ghostwrite articles and I have written reports and news releases as an employee and as a freelancer.  I think I have been many writers.

But mostly, I am a writer when I feel that I am.  Because putting words together to express an idea is a huge and defining part of whom I am.

What about skill? Does skill make you a writer?  Please don’t re-read the first Half of this blog post, riddled with sentence fragments and full sentences ending in prepositions.  Skilled or not, I am a writer.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of people out there who are clumsy at everything they do.  There are many people who can’t seem to get their lives together.  There are people who are rude and selfish.  There are all sorts of people who are not very skilled at being human.

They are human.  Skilled or not, they are human.

There are writers who can lead you through the gates of Hell, across the vast expanse of space and into the deepest recesses of your mind.  There are other who make you fall asleep.  They are writers if they say so. 

Sorry, but you don’t get to define them.  Not based on skill.  Not based on money.  Not based on anything.  You get to define you.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,

 

 “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

Are you a writer?  If not, what are you?  Who are you? What are your thoughts on this?



Guest post by David Leonhardt at THGM Writing Services:
The Happy Guy Marketing
info@THGMwriters.com
(613) 448-4086 (Canada)
Please join me on Tsu: https://www.tsu.co/Amabaie/
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http://thgmwriters.com
"Money doesn't make someon a writer. It only makes them a business. Only writing can make you a writer." ~ David Leonhardt, THGM Writing Services
 

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .