Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Publisher's Take on Book Marketing


A Conversation with Lida Quillen

Publisher and Founder of Twilight Times Books

By

Dora Machado
 

 

As you may remember, for the past few weeks, we've been talking to Lida Quillen, independent publisher and founder of Twilight Times Books, about a variety of topics. So far, Lida has shared with us how she became and independent publisher, what her day is like, how she makes publishing decisions, which books deserve publication and her best advice for new writers seeking publication. Today she shares with us her views on book marketing.

Hi Lida and welcome back! This is a one question post: Let's talk marketing. When it comes to book promotion, what are the basic elements that an author has to have in place in order to support a novel's publication? What kinds of promos do you recommend to your authors and which ones do you think have the most impact on sales?

The reality in today’s publishing environment is an author not only has to write a great book, they must have an author web site and be active on social media such as Facebook, email lists, forums, Twitter, etc.

We provide new authors with practical promotion plans that include no-cost and low-cost promo ideas as well as a step-by-step marketing plan. The marketing plan outlines what the author needs to be doing several months prior to the release date, three months prior, one month prior, etc. Fortunately, there are a number of no-cost and low-cost ways in which to promote a book.

For example, I’ll share an excerpt from Practical Tips for Online Authors:

Online promo action plan
All of your promo efforts should be part of an overarching plan of building an “author platform.” That is one of the first questions the major NYC print publishers will ask. Does the author have a following? And then they might ask, is the book well-written?

Have you set up an Amazon.com author page? A Facebook page? Have you placed announcements in online forums or web sites that are open new release announcements?
It might be helpful if you put your tasks into separate promotion categories:

Online (reviews, Virtual Book Tours, interviews, etc)

Local media (local papers, radio)

In-person events (signings, presentations, visits)

Social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc)

You might consider including in your promo plan a few, but not necessarily all, of the following suggestions:
• Set up an Amazon author page

• Create a Facebook Fan Page
• Set up an author page on Goodreads (lots of book bloggers hang out here)

• Twitter campaign (you can pre-schedule your tweets in advance and keep them going)
• Include freebies in your newsletter/website for readers (short story, reader’s guide, book club guide, etc)

• Schedule several radio interviews. Links to all interviews should be on your web site/blog.
• A podcast and/or series of podcasts where you could read excerpts or talk about the writing of your books. Readers love to hear authors talk, learn what’s inside their minds. A video would be even better. This could also go on YouTube.

• Target Amazon top 10 reviewers
• Have everybody you know ‘like’ and ‘tag’ your book on Amazon

• Make sure you have at least 50 people review your book. 100 would be even better.
• Enter awards competitions

• Put an “Amazon Short” free on Amazon with links to your books. The short story should have a nice cover and be available for download on your site/blog as well.
• Be active on the Kindle forums and boards. According to Karen McQuestion, who has made close to a million on Kindle, this was one of the secrets of her success.

• Create a book trailer.
• Hold contests periodically

• Goodreads book give-away
• Send out press releases every time there’s news. A great way to bring traffic to your web site. Press releases should be sent before release, at the moment of release, and as a follow up when reviews or award nominations start coming up.

• Publish articles, excerpts, book announcements, writing essays, etc. in appropriate online forums such as Gather.com.  Broadcast to Gather Broadcasting group and send email to “friends” on Gather.
• Be sure to comment BACK on other writer’s pieces. Make sure it’s not a one-way street!

• Join Bookblogs.ning.com, Productreviewplace.ning.com to find blog reviewers.
• Write reviews for other authors to get your name out there

Virtual Book Tour
Solicit hosts to provide reviews, interviews, book excerpts, or various creative venues to promote your book on a weekly basis. Provide books free to these hosts in exchange for the promotion. Make sure your tour includes radio interviews and perhaps audio and video podcasts. Plan at least 3 one-month virtual book tours during the first year of publication.

Place announcements online in appropriate venues such as
Author’s Den
Book Bloggers
Carolyn Howard Johnson’s Sharing with Writers
Compulsive Reader newsletter
Fran Silverman’s Book Promotion newsletter
LibraryThing
NING book promotion groups
Writers Gazette, “Writers Brag Board”
Yahoo “My Book’s Out” group
Yahoo Online Authors groups

Note: credit goes to Aaron Paul Lazar and Mayra Calvani for the above promo tips
The more techniques you use the more recognition you and your book(s) will receive which should result in more book sales!

Wow. Lots of great suggestions.  Thanks again. And to our MB4 readers, next week we'll conclude our conversation with Lida Quillen by discussing some of the hottest trends in the market and Lida's views on the future of the publishing industry. See you then!
 
******
 
About Lida Quillen
Lida E. Quillen is an author, editor, publicist and publisher. She is the founder and owner of Twilight Times Books, Paladin Timeless Books and Twilight Times ezine and current owner of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine.
About Twilight Times Books
The mission of Twilight Times Books is to promote excellence in writing and great literature. TTBooks is dedicated to enhancing the prospects of getting great fantasy, historical, literary, mystery, science fiction and Young Adult books into the hands of readers.
Submission Information
Twilight Times Books will be open to submissions from February 15th to March 5, 2015. Send a cover letter, synopsis, first chapter and marketing plan in the body of an email message. The subject line must begin with ttb or ttbooks.
Contact Information:
Lida E. Quillen, Publisher
Email: publisher@twilighttimesbooks.com – or – publisher@twilighttimes.com
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter.com
 
 
******
 
Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She is one only a few Hispanic women writing fantasy in the United States today. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.
 
When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for the award-winning blog Murder By Four and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats. 
 
To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit her at www.doramachado.com , email her at Dora@doramachado.com, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.
 
 
 
 

 
 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

How to Catch Those Pesky Typos - Aaron Lazar


How to Catch Those Pesky Typso Typos

copyright aplazar 2014

It’s one of the hardest parts of being a writer, don’t you think? Editing your own work, running over the same pages over and over again…and still, if you’re human, it’s inevitable that you’ll miss a quotation mark here, an extra space there, or worse, a typo.

You know that reading your own words is the most difficult scenario for proofing, don’t you? Your big, beautiful brain is so good at translating what you physically “see” on the page into what your mind “knows” you “meant” to type, that it usually will glide right over an extra “the” or a missing “a.”

Yes, it purposefully corrects the errors, without even notifying you!

You can read the same sentence a hundred times, and it’ll look great to you. Your mind interprets it as you intended it. And when the first person to take a look at your book finds a glaring omission, or an extra word in that lovely prose, you may feel like an incompetent idiot.

You thought you were careful. Right? You worked so hard to catch those typos.

When it first happens, it embarrassing. But over time, you’ll learn you cannot catch all of the errors by yourself.

I’ve written twenty-two books, so I’ve been through this process a few times. (you can see them at www.lazarbooks.com, including my newest release, Betrayal.) Over the years, I’ve had publishing house editors go over my manuscripts. They found errors, I fixed them. And I tried not to make more errors when I made the corrections, which is all too common.

We had the first and second edits, then copy edits in the end to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Once in a while, in spite of our best efforts, an error would creep through. Humiliated, I’d beat myself up for this one stupid error and swear it would never happen again. 

Because, you see, I, like you, get upset when I see typos in a best selling book. I used to think, "How can they have missed them?" "How hard can it be to find them?" "Didn't they even READ this thing?"

It was very humbling and illuminating to discover that sometimes, in spite of heroic efforts, these pesky mistakes can make it through to the final version. It happens to the best of us. 

As time went on, I learned that beta readers were an amazing asset. Not only were they excellent at finding and spotting typos, but if you found talented readers or writers with a knack for literary insight (like my beta readers!), they would point out inconsistencies in a scene or even mention when they thought a character went beyond their natural boundaries. My beta readers have helped my books become the best they can be, and I love them. ;o)

Over the years I’ve developed friendships with writers and readers, and I’d offer them the job of beta reading my manuscripts before I submitted the book to my publisher. It worked out very well, and I always felt better when they’d read through my books. On average, I have 10-12 people read the manuscript before I consider it “close to done.”

Of those twenty-two books, I’ve published fifteen through a traditional small press since 2007, and have recently moved on to self publish (through Kindle Select) seven more that were waiting in the publishing queue in the past year. Polishing and proofing all of these manuscripts was a real challenge, and my beta readers did me proud. But believe it or not – they didn’t catch all the typos.

I have discovered there is one more essential step to proofing one’s manuscript: reading it aloud.

Yes, it’s something you can do yourself. It might take you a whole weekend to get through it. But it’s worth the effort. Better yet, if you have a narrator who is recording the audio book version, this is where the final catches will be found. 

Aside: I recommend that authors release all books in this order: eBook, audio book, print.

I have found that my best narrators (actors, really, with great attention to detail) have consistently isolated a couple of leftover “extra or missing letters/words” which are the hardest to find. Sure, with a real typo, like a misspelled word, MS Word underlines it for you in red. Those aren’t too hard to find. It’s harder when you have an extra preposition in a sentence, or a misused word like “here” instead of “hear.” MS Word doesn’t often catch those mistakes.

I find these errors creep in at the end of a work in progress, when I’ve gone through to beef up a sentence or make changes in general. Then I don’t always “cut” fully or “paste” fully and that’s my downfall! Creating typos because you’re fixing another typo is annoying, but pretty common.

Does that happen to you?

Here’s my advice on how to produce a typo-free book.

1) When creating your book, try to find a writer or reader friend who will swap chapters with you as you write it. You read their stuff, they read yours. You help them, they help you. It’s all good. They can help you cull out that first crop of errors, right off the bat.

2) When you’re done writing the book, go through it until you feel you are satisfied. This may take multiple read-throughs. It all depends on how careful you were the first time around when creating the story.

3) Ask another good friend to check it over, so you can be sure you didn’t make any really embarrassing faux pas.

4) Draft beta readers to help you. This may take years of cultivating friends and readers, but it is worth its weight in gold.

5) Review it a few more times yourself after you’ve incorporated beta edits (remember, just use what makes sense to you, you don’t want to lose your focus!)

6) Release the book as an eBook.

7) Find reviewers. Watch the comments come in from readers. Notice if anyone mentions typos! If so, go after them immediately. In this day and age, it’s easy to fix a file and reload it up to your seller’s page. Repost the eBook with the changes. (easy peasy if you are on Amazon)

8) Post the file on ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) to find the perfect narrator. Choose him/her carefully.

9) Send the manuscript to your audio book narrator to read before they begin production. 

10) When they find a few mistakes – fix them. Reload the eBook to correct these things.

11) Let the narrator finish the audiobook recording. If they find anything else (at this point it might just be a missing quotation mark, or an extra space), then upload the corrected eBook again. Now it should be close to perfect.

12) At this point, it’s safe to start thinking about creating your print version. I use Create Space and have been very happy with their quality and support. 

13) Order a proof (or two, or three, depending on what you find and fix!) before you finalize the manuscript. NEVER just review it online – you need to hold it in your hands, go through it page by page. Formatting can be tricky at first, so make sure you focus on page numbers and margin spacing before you let it go live. And read this printed version one more time – you might find another error! 

14) Send an autographed copy of your print book to all your beta readers – they worked hard for this, and they deserve a special treat!

Even with this painstaking approach, once in a while something slips through. It’s disappointing if it happens, but it’s probably God’s way of keeping us humble. ;o)

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And remember, if you love to write, write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Which Books Deserve Publication?


A Conversation with Lida Quillen

Publisher and Founder of Twilight Times Books

By

Dora Machado
 
 
Have you ever wondered about a publisher's selection process?

Last week I introduced you to Lida Quillen, founder and owner of Twilight Times Books, an independent publishing house that publishes critically acclaimed literary, mystery, science fiction and fantasy books. Today, she talks about her decision-making process, her take on which books deserve publication and why, what happens when she offers an author a publishing contract and her best advice for unpublished authors.

Welcome back, Lida. We love having you here! You've said before in previous interviews that you are committed to "providing an outlet for brilliant authors with books that deserve to see print." How do you decide which books deserve publication?

I prefer literary works that are exemplary, that transcend genres and/or are beautifully written. I am *highly* selective as to what I will accept for publication. Out of 300 submissions, I might accept two manuscripts for publication.

A good example of the type of novel I am currently looking for is Jerome and the Seraph by Robina Williams. This book combines mythology, classical paintings, quantum physics and the afterlife.

Barbarians at the Gates by Christopher Nuttall is an exceptional military SF novel.

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective by Christine Amsden involves magic, mystery and romance in a coming of age story.

Gate to Nowhere by Leanna Sain is an award-winning novel that combines mystery, romance and time travel.

Knight of Flame by Scott Eder is an exceptional contemporary fantasy.

Reunion by Ken Lizzi is a post-apocalyptic survival novel that involves parallel worlds.

I’ve often said that if someone enjoys reading, then they will enjoy most of the books we publish, whether the book is in their favorite genre, or not. I’ve seen any number of reviews that say, for example, “I don’t particularly like SF, but I thoroughly enjoyed Monkey Trap…” or “I’m not a big fantasy fan but I couldn’t put Cassie Scot down…” or words to that effect.

So you've found a book you love and you've offered an author a contract. What happens next? What does TT Books expect from the author? What can the author expect from TT Books?

Normally we bring out the ebook first and the print book several months later. The cover artwork can take up to three months to complete. Edits can be simultaneous but figure a minimum of four months before your book is released as an ebook. We send the ebook version (pdf arc) around to gather reviews prior to bringing out the print version.

Also, immediately after the ebook version is released, I send your book off to an editor (yes, again) prior to print production. I have found nearly all books, even well-written ones, can use a bit more polish.

re: editing process. I have an editor go over the manuscript. Then the file goes back to the author with notations and suggestions. The author sends the manuscript back to me. I then assign a copy editor who goes over the manuscript. The file goes back to the author who makes the changes (or not), then sends the file to me for final edits. At TT Books the author generally has the last word on changes.

Then, we go through this process all over again for the paperback versions. The main thing is I need a print galley review copy to send around to the pre-publication reviewers such as Booklist, ForeWord Reviews, Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, etc. three or four months prior to the official release date.

Our initial print runs have been small, 500-750 books, while we test market our books. We can ramp up print runs as needed if reader demand warrants. For example, we printed 1700 copies of Monkey Trap with an offset printer two weeks after the release date. Hudson Lake, had an initial print run of 2500 books.

re: marketing. We feel the most important marketing tool is to publish first-rate books. Our books have been professionally edited and display attractive cover artwork by professional artists.

Twilight Times Books is currently listed in the Literary Market Place. Over the past couple of years, we have accumulated info on several hundred independent bookstores that are willing to carry books from small press publishers and have been sending out targeted mailings.

We have an online media room where members of the media, booksellers and retailers can download flyers, sell sheets, reviews and chapter excerpts in pdf files formatted for print. Our catalogue is also available as a download.

Media kits and press releases are sent to major publications and galleys/advance review copies sent to top reviewers such as American Library Journal, Booklist, ForeWord Reviews, NYT Book Review, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago-Sun Times, Oregonian, Seattle Times, etc.

We gather names and contact info for the Community Relations Managers for the Barnes & Noble bookstores in regions where our authors reside and send them targeted promo packets.

We have been sending postcards, flyers and/or brochures to targeted specialty shops and various book catalogues. Press releases and news stories are sent to the author's local and regional newspapers, libraries, bookstores, associations and etc. News stories are posted online to newsgroups, readers' bulletin boards and appropriate readers email lists.

What about authors who haven't been published yet? What advice would you share with authors who are struggling to put their work out there?

In order to be successful, I strongly recommend that an author is active on social media even before they attempt to publish their first novel. Readers like to know the “story behind the story,” so to speak. Fans will enjoy reading about the author’s trials and tribulations such as finishing the book, signing with a literary agent or publisher, cover art reveal, etc. Get your fans, book bloggers, etc. involved and invested in your writing endeavors.

Until a couple of years ago book publicists used to send review copies to the major magazines and newspapers. Now publicists send review copies to the major book bloggers.

Find critique partners, Beta readers or pay a freelance editor to go over your manuscript before you submit your work to a publisher or before you self-publish.

 One of the best marketing tools these days is to have two or three books in a series ready to go before you publish the first one.

 Thanks again for answering our questions, Lida. We really appreciate your time. And to our MB4 readers, Lida will return next week to talk about a hot topic among writers these days: Book marketing and what you can do to impact your sales.

See you next week!

*****


About Lida Quillen

Lida E. Quillen is an author, editor, publicist and publisher. She is the founder and owner of Twilight Times Books, Paladin Timeless Books and Twilight Times ezine and current owner of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine.

About Twilight Times Books

The mission of Twilight Times Books is to promote excellence in writing and great literature. TTBooks is dedicated to enhancing the prospects of getting great fantasy, historical, literary, mystery, science fiction and Young Adult books into the hands of readers.

Submission Information

Twilight Times Books will be open to submissions from February 15th to March 5, 2015. Send a cover letter, synopsis, first chapter and marketing plan in the body of an email message. The subject line must begin with ttb or ttbooks.


Contact Information:

Lida E. Quillen, Publisher

Email: publisher@twilighttimesbooks.com – or – publisher@twilighttimes.com



*****
Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She is one only a few Hispanic women writing fantasy in the United States today. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.

When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for the award-winning blog Murder By Four and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

 To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit her at www.doramachado.com , email her at Dora@doramachado.com, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.