Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Power of Giving Back

Friends, today we have a special guest--Randi Lee, author of Affected. Randi's here to share what she's learned about the power of authors giving back.

Take it away, Randi!

Writers, there are a lot of us. Strength in numbers is great! Don’t get me wrong. I love all of my writer friends and wouldn’t trade them for the world. However, with so many writers publishing so many books these days, it can be difficult to get noticed—especially by the media. 

I should know. I spent ages contacting media affiliates in an effort to have them promote my book. Newspapers, trade journals, television and radio stations: I tried them all. Through emails, letters, telephone calls and physical visits, I did everything I could to push my book on these agents of the media, to no avail. I even switched my message. When one pitch letter didn’t work, I tried another. If no one responded to my book’s synopsis, I re-wrote the synopsis and sent that out. No one bit. Nothing worked. Colorful language filled the halls of my home as I ranted and raved to friends and family about how amazing my book was and questioned why no one wanted to promote it.

What came to me later, something I should have realized when I first began contacting the media, is that lots of writers contact the media. Lots of writers want the media to promote their amazing book. Lots of writers try through emails, letters, telephone calls and physical visits to get the media to do something for them.

However, in return, what are those writers doing for the media?

Sure, the description of a great book written by a local author might entice a few additional viewers to tune in to the 5:00 news. However, unless that local author is Stephen King or Ann Rice, I doubt the boost in ratings would be all that significant. I was no different. Yes, my friends and family would watch, but who else? I knew I needed to add something to my pitch to the media—something more newsworthy than just an interesting read. I needed to provide them with a story that would benefit their viewers and ensure ratings succeeded. I needed to give something back.

My pitch changed completely. Instead of sending emails to newscasters about my “amazing new book!” I wrote to them about a successful self-marketing campaign I was running at the time and how learning about it could benefit their viewers. “Sales for my book skyrocketed in less than two weeks thanks to this marketing campaign and I did it all on my own,” I wrote. “I would like to tell you, and your viewers, how I did it.”

Suddenly, things changed. My inbox was flooded with responses from local and international news affiliates asking me if I would like to appear on their program or in their newspaper. Last week, I successfully concluded the first of three television news interviews I have lined up. Next week, I’ll be featured in an hour-long interview on the radio, with another radio interview following the week after that. Three local papers have agreed to run articles about my marketing campaign (and, more importantly, my book,) and potential opportunities are still continuing to arise.

Yes, writer friend, your book is amazing, and people should want to read it! However, there are a lot of amazing books out there. Getting yours noticed is going to involve giving, as well as taking. Think about your story. Think about the successes and failures you’ve had and what the media and its readers/viewers can take away from them. Did the inspirational theme of your book motivate someone to donate to charity? Tell them that. Did your book make the Amazon Top 100 in less than a day? Tell them how you made it happen. Empower yourself through your unique experiences as a writer and lend those experiences to the public in a new and thoughtful way. Once you learn to give back, the media will be much more obliged to listen.

Thank you so much, Julie, for hosting me on your blog today. I hope this information proves useful to you, Julie’s readers, and I hope you all continue to pursue your goals in new and inventive ways! 

Randi Lee is an author and blogger, as well as a freelance writer, editor and designer living in New England with her family and two much-loved dogs. She recently released her debut novel, Affected, and is currently working on its sequel, Ascendance. Randi loves sharing tips and supporting fellow authors. She often posts helpful advice and author spotlights on her website: www.randileewrites.comAffected, her action-packed dystopian thriller, is available at all store fronts, including: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and iTunes. 

Awesome, right? I love it when fellow authors succeed in the world of marketing their books. Giving back is always a positive way to go. 

Thanks, Randi!

Friends, what's your experience with book promotion and media? Any tips you'd like to share?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Writing: It's Like Tennis

As I mentioned in my post about Hope, Pride, and Midway Blues, I've taken up tennis. As C. S. Lewis once said, "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." So there you go.

Of course, as I dug into tennis this summer, my writer brain ran parallels between writing and tennis. My thoughts?

  • Jump in at your skill level. I didn't enter the sport with the notion that I'd be a skilled player after a couple of lessons. I was starting out on the bottom rung, with absolutely no idea how to even keep score. (Tennis score is really weird, though, but I digress) Same with writing. We don't enter the writing life as experts. We enter at our own skill level and go from there. No pressure to be like the aforementioned C. S. Lewis--now or ever.
  • Soak up advice from those ahead of you. In every area of our lives, there are people who know more than we do. Many of those people want to see others rise higher and improve their skills. Tennis and writing are no different. If someone offers tips, don't get offended and shut them out. Instead, soak up their wisdom and thank them for caring enough to help.
  • There is always something to learn. Even the best tennis players practice constantly and continue to improve. Experienced writers agree that they do not know it all and that they must continue to work on their craft. We will never, ever, know it all. Thank goodness! The journey would be boring without growth.
  • Don't let setbacks stop you. Sometimes I feel as if I haven't learned a thing with tennis, and that I'm moving backwards instead of forward. It may be frustrating, but that's just part of the process. As writers, we understand that there will be good days and bad days, momentum and failure. Heck, even Serena Williams has setbacks. We learn from them and move on.
  • Stay after class. My serve needs...ahem...some work. At this point, I'm happy if it just makes it into the service box. After my practice with other players ends, I stay alone and work on my serve. If we recognize a writing weakness--character, plot, world--it's helpful to dig in and do extra work in that area. It may take time and effort, but the improvement is worth it.
  • Keep those muscles working. Whether it's the mental muscles of writing, or the leg, arm, and shoulder muscles for tennis, it's helpful to keep them moving. I didn't write much over the summer, and when I came back to my manuscript, it took me a while to warm up.
  • Fatigue happens. Sometimes I try so hard to improve my tennis shots, I become too fatigued. And when I'm too fatigued, it's a downward spiral. It's time to take a break. We've all been there before with our writing, yes? When our brains are fried and we read the same sentence over and over again and have no revelation about what to do next. Stop. Rest. Return.
  • Get out there and try. I played in my first league match last weekend. I went in with the attitude, I'm new, but I've got the guts to try. With the afterthought, I hope these ladies have a sense of humor. I have a long way to go, but boy, was it fun. I love the Wayne Gretzky quote, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." I say that to my sons all the time. And why should I be any different? Why not take a shot? What's the worst that can happen? My manuscript is a flop? I'm a goofy tennis player? So what?
With anything in life, I think the most important thing we can do is live in the moment and enjoy the journey. Otherwise, what's the point?

Writing friends, what's your take on these comparisons? If you've played tennis, how's your serve? Can you reliably get that little green ball into the service box? Help!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Summer of Not Writing #IWSG

Welcome, Insecure Writers! Click here to join this awesome group.

Last summer I was busy with the release of my novel "The Summer of Crossing Lines." This summer, in keeping with "The Summer of..." theme, it's been "The Summer of Not Writing."

But now that my oldest son is settled in safety at college (boo hoo), and my other two sons are about to start their sophomore year in high school, I'm prepping to dive back in.

Life has a way of getting in the way, and I'm not stressed at all about not writing. There's a time and a season for everything. This summer may have been a The Summer of Not Writing, but autumn can be The Fall of Falling Back Into Work.

How about you? Did you get much writing done this summer? If you have kids, are they back in school? Are you back in the routine?