Tag: writing

 
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Writing The Knockout Query Letter: How To Catch A Book Editor’s Attention

You’ve done it. You’ve achieved a lifelong dream and penned a book certain to be lauded through the ages as a literary masterpiece. Yet one last obstacle stands between you and publishing success ñ attracting the attention of someone who can get your book into print.

In reality, catching an editor’s attention is not difficult. All you have to do is follow the rules by sending what industry insiders refer to as a “query letter”. A query letter is one or two pages written in the format of a formal business letter. It should be brief, and it should pique the interest of any publishing executive who reads it. After all, if you can’t sell a single individual on the merits of your book, why should a publishing house believe you can sell to an audience of thousands or millions? If you want some inside secrets to crafting a perfect, attention-grabbing query letter, then you’ve come to the right place. Cover each of the following points, and I guarantee you’ll have an editor calling within one week of sending your query letter.

Point #1: Approach The Right Publisher: This seems obvious, but you wouldn’t believe the number of writers who make this mistake. Be certain that the publisher you choose to contact is in the business of publishing your genre. If you write fantasy novels, then don’t send a query letter to the editor of a computer manual publisher. It will be thrown in the trash without a second look. The best way to find the right publisher is to find books similar to your own and open them. Who is the publisher of each book? Does one particular publisher’s name keep turning up? If so, that’s the one you want to contact.

Point #2: Selling To The Right Person: Never mail a query letter addressed to “Editor” or “To Whom It May Concern”. Such a letter is destined for the “slush pile,” and eventually, the trashcan. Once you’ve identified your ideal publisher, consult a book such as the latest edition of Jeff Herman’s Writer’s Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents (most libraries or large bookstores will have it). The book will provide a page or two of information on the publisher in question, including the name and contact information of the person to whom all queries should be directed. Usually, this is an executive or managing editor. Address the query letter to that specific person and make sure to use the correct gender and spelling when using their name.

Point #3: Your Opening (Especially the First Sentence): The first paragraph of your query letter should get right to the point. Tell the editor why you are contacting him/her. Did someone they know refer you? Has someone famous praised your work? Either one will capture instant attention. But the most important thing you can do in your opening is to define the audience and market for your book and state why your book is unique or has sales potential in the marketplace. Be specific. Don’t say “all women will want to read my book”. Say “five million women between the ages of 40 and 55 who watch The Oprah Winfrey Show will want to read my book”. The editor will determine within the first sentence or two whether or not to continue reading the rest of your query, so it’s extremely important to spend time crafting the best opening possible. If you have any media contacts or a way to position your book so that it will be irresistible for the media to cover, then say so in the first sentence. Media attention sells books, and that’s what publishers are in business to do.

Point #4: Describe Your Product: In the second paragraph, provide a brief overview of your book. Give the editor a brief summary just as it might appear on the book’s jacket. If possible, reference bestselling books within the same genre and point out why your book is different. Present facts about your work, not opinions. “The potential market is 5.8 million single women” is a fact. “This is the greatest book ever written” is an opinion. Tell the editor why your book will fill an unmet need in the marketplace. Keep it brief, and don’t ramble. This is a case where less is more.

Point #5: About The Author: In the third paragraph, talk about yourself. Why are you writing this book? What are your credentials? Are you an expert in the field? Have you ever been published before? Do you have media experience or media contacts? If so, then let the editor know. If you have limited experience, say so. Be honest and straightforward. Experience helps, but lack of experience will not immediately disqualify you. Adding “fluff” to your resume will. Under no circumstances should you include information about your personal life unless such information is pertinent to selling the book.

Point #6: Leave Them Wanting More: Conclude your query letter by thanking the editor for his/her time and by offering to send your full book proposal (for non-fiction) or the first few chapters of your book (for fiction), and donít forget to provide your contact information. If your query letter sparks the interest of the editor, he/she will contact you and ask for more information. So don’t send a book proposal or sample chapters without being asked. Also, if you’re sending a query to more than one editor, let them know that you have sent simultaneous queries. Likewise, if you’re offering the editor a two week period of exclusivity (the method I recommend), then say so. Finally, don’t include a SASE with your query. A SASE is most often used to send a form rejection letter back to the author. Don’t leave the impression that you expect rejection. If interested, an editor will contact you immediately by phone or email. They wonít use snail mail.

Point #7: Proofread, Proofread, Proofread: A query letter is the first sample of a prospective author’s writing that an editor will see. It should be perfect. If you can’t produce a one-page letter professionally and free of error, why should anyone believe you can produce an entire book? Don’t rely on spell check programs to find your mistakes, and remember that solid writing is produced by rewriting, rewriting, and rewriting. Rework each individual sentence until it’s the best it can be. You’ve spent countless hours perfecting your manuscript. You can certainly spend a few hours perfecting your query letter.

Point #8: Presentation: You’ve spent the necessary time to create a knockout query letter. Now you have to present it to the editor in the correct fashion or else risk being dismissed as an amateur. It’s important to print your query letter in black ink on 8 1/2 x 11, high quality, plain white paper using a LaserJet printer (no dot-matrix). If you have a letterhead, use it. But don’t get too fancy. Don’t use border patterns. Anything that detracts from the substance of your letter could trigger a rejection. When it comes time to mail your letter, use FedEx. This serves two purposes. First, because of the expense involved, it signals that you are a professional who obviously isn’t sending mass queries to publishers all over the globe. Second, and most importantly, it gets opened. A FedEx envelope simply doesn’t get thrown into the “slush pile”. Other than concise, professional writing, using FedEx is the #1 way to differentiate yourself from the thousands of authors who query a publisher in any given year. Finally, don’t use “gimmicks” or send gifts along with your query letter. Bribery and clever stunts can not replace great writing or a unique product idea. If you compose your letter correctly, you should be confident it will merit the response it deserves.

Utilize each of the 8 points above while drafting your query letter, and I guarantee it will be better than 99.5% of the queries a publisher receives in any given year. In addition, if a market exists for your book, a query letter crafted to the specifications of this outline will almost always generate a request for a book proposal or sample chapters within one week. At that point, you’ve got an editor interested in your book, and you’re already halfway toward seeing it in print. So start working on your knockout query letter today!

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Why Publish an EZine and Churning out Ezine Content

On the Internet, it is very possible to make money without selling any product. One way of doing so is through starting your own eZine, also known as an electronic newsletter.

In a nutshell, you send out your eZine issues on a periodical basis to your subscribers. The good part is that you have a flexible choice in automating the process of sending out your eZine issues for you or manually sending them on a periodical basis.

As an eZine publisher, not only can you easily achieve the benefits a conventional newsletter publisher enjoys without having to chop down several trees in the process, you can easily and conveniently spread your marketing influence and expertise to your base of subscribers from the shoes of an ordinary individual.

In other words, you do not have to invest in expensive printing equipment, brick and mortar business, and hiring staff just to run your own newsletter publication, resulting in a lot of time, money and effort saved.

Basically, all you need to start your own eZine are an auto responder and broadcast feature to go with, enabling you to reach out to your massive subscribers whom you can regard as your prospects, too.

All in all, if you do not have the commitments of creating your own product for sale, then publishing your own online newsletter can be one of the wisest decisions you will ever make, given the benefits of impressive marketing power and influence it can offer to you.

Churning out eZine Content.Creating your own content can be a challenge if you publish your own online newsletter or eZine.

However, regardless of any topic you are publishing on, types of contents can be generally divided into four categories, namely factual content, short tips, mini stories and case studies.

Other than writing your own content, you can get your own unique content the quick and easy way by organizing an interview with an expert or leader in the topic.

Very often, this can be done for free and since the interviewee is writing out most of the content, there is nothing else for you to do other than giving the interviewee something valuable in exchange (maybe a meal!).

Another little known and underused method in getting your own content is via public domains. If you are not familiar with the term “public domain”, “public domain” simply means anything that is NOT protected under US copyright law.

This includes ALL works published before 1923 and, under certain conditions, works published up to 1978. And in this case, we are referring ìworksî to written materials such as reports, articles and books.

Republishing and repackaging public domain information can help you save time and effort from creating new ideas and content as they are readily available. On top of that, you do not have to pay royalties or copyright fees on that work.

If you fancy the idea of publishing content without any writing on your part, this method is for you.

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The Business of Publishing

The truth about publishing is really stranger than fiction and the truth is: getting published is only half the battle. The other half is to keep your reality check in balance so it doesn’t bounce.

Congratulations, you’re published! But what exactly does it mean to be “published”? Besides the fact that your work is finally in print and your college alumni has asked to interview you for their newsletter it also means fame and fortune, right? Well, ok, maybe not on the level of J. K. Rowling, but at the very least you can expect a call from Oprah, right? I hate to be the one to break it to you but you’re probably not even on her radar screen. The truth about publishing is really stranger than fiction and the truth is: getting published is only half the battle. The other half is to keep your reality check in balance so it doesn’t bounce.

While publishing is all about creative expression, it’s also about business and it’s those business savvy authors who will succeed in the end. Now you don’t have to be an MBA to be a keen business person, you simply have to understand that the choices you make relative to your books future should be based on strategies that will enhance sales not just drain your pocketbook. So, how do you do this? First, take a long, hard look at your reader.

At Author Marketing Experts, we always create a reader profile for each book we promote. This reader profile will tell us where to find buyers for the books we represent. Taking this first step helps us sort through our choices when it comes to book promotion and make decisions on behalf of our authors that are sound and will help leverage sales.
There are times when it’s a waste of resources to do a nationwide radio or TV promotion. In fact, some of our programs don’t include any outreach to broadcast media. Why? Because as alluring as it might seem to appear on the Today Show, what’s the point if your audience doesn’t watch morning TV? And, if your audience isn’t watching this show, the chances are slim they’ll even consider you anyway. What? More rejection? Who needs it!

As you embark on or continue your campaign, ask yourself a few tough questions. First, what’s your ultimate goal for this book? If it’s just to give away at family reunions, that’s great! But then you’ll probably want to nix any marketing. If your book is an arm of your business and you have speaking engagements lined up through the end of the year. You probably don’t need to spend a lot on marketing since most of your sales will come from your speaking engagements (i.e. back of the room sales). On the other hand, if you wrote this book to grow your business or to leverage your credibility then you will probably want to dial yourself into your industry through enhanced media exposure.

For fiction authors this area becomes a little tricky. First, you need to determine your long term goals. By long term we mean: do you want to stay in this business or was this book just “something you wanted to do.” If it’s a hobby, then treat it as such but if this is going to be your career, then you need to keep your message out there on a continual basis, through venues such as author events, talks, signings, print and broadcast media.

Make sure the choices you make, make sense for your book and aren’t just made because you’ve always dreamt of being on Oprah. I’ve known authors lured into inappropriate marketing plans by big, flashy names and promises of stardom, wasting thousands of valuable marketing dollars and heading in a direction that wasn’t right for them. If you’re serious about your work, ready to let go of your muse and face the task at hand with some business savvy, then you’re really ready to get published. Below are some guidelines that will help further your success!

1) Reader profile: create one of these at the beginning of your marketing campaign and keep refining it as you move through the process. Refine and redefine who and where your audience is and how to get to them.

2) Time commitment: determine what you can and can’t reasonably do. If you have a full time job it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to commit yourself to forty hours of marketing a week unless your boss is on vacation.

3) Investment: how much are you willing to invest in your future? Are you willing to invest money without seeing much in return knowing that you are building a foundation or do you want to see immediate monetary results? Most authors don’t see a return on their investment for a year or more. Are you committed enough to yourself or your project to keep this investment going?

4) Reality check: what’s realistic for the industry you’re in? Are you latching onto a fad or something with more longevity? Are you getting into a brand new market that will require lots of reader education? Or are you trying to go mainstream with a non-mainstream topic? While this is an admirable goal, it can be like swimming upstream.

5) Budget: while we encourage authors to invest in their future, we’ve also seen a number of people go into heavy debt, quit their jobs and even sell their homes just to promote their book. While that kind of dedication is certainly admirable, remember that although you have the potential to make a great deal of money it’s not going to be overnight. The lure here is of course that “If I stick with it, this next sale will make me famous.” Well, maybe or maybe not. If you’ve been plugging away for a while without any significant success get a professional to give you some honest, constructive feedback about your plan, your market, and your book. It might be that a poorly designed cover is the reason you’re not making sales, or a topic that’s fallen off of the public’s radar screen. In the meantime as you’re waiting to hit the big time you’ll still need a place to sleep and Uncle Vinnie’s couch will get old real quick.

6) Burnout: we hear this term often, even to the point of being overused. What we’re really talking about here is author burnout. We’ve found that the average author only markets their book for ninety days. That means ninety days of day and night marketing, radio interviews at 3am and a book signing every weekend. On day ninety-one they are so tired, so discouraged and so broke they quit. You can avoid this by giving yourself realistic goals and a realistic timeframe in which to complete them. There’s nothing in the world like seeing your book in print. If approached realistically, objectively and with sound business sense, it can be one of the most exciting times in your life.

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Seven Secrets of Writing a Book That Sells

Ensuring the success of a book is something even the biggest publishers have never been able to guarantee. Mitigating circumstances, flash trends, and world events will all affect buyer preferences. That said, there are still ways to leverage the sales-factor in your favor and here’s how you do it.

It’s one thing to write a book, it’s an entirely different thing to write one that’s a saleable, viable, marketable product. Ensuring the success of a book is something even the biggest publishers have never been able to guarantee. Mitigating circumstances, flash trends, and world events will all affect buyer preferences. That said, there are still ways to leverage the sales-factor in your favor and here’s how you do it.

1. Know your readers. We’re not just talking about whether your readers are male or female. You’ll want to know myriad factors about your audience. How old are your readers (age range)? Are readers married, single, or divorced? Where do your readers live (generally)? What do your readers do for a living? What other books/publications do they read? Develop a profile that includes where they shop, what clubs they belong to, etc.

These elements will help you incorporate these aspects into your book *and* help you unearth salient marketing opportunities (i.e., publications and stores).

2. Know your market. What’s the market like for your book? Is there a trend out there you’re positioning yourself toward? Are you reading all the publications related to this topic/trend? Are there any “holes” out there your book could fill? What’s the future for this market/topic? For example, let’s say you’re a fiction writer looking to publish chick lit. Go to any bookstore and you can’t help but spot the cutsie, pink, cartoonish covers. Many thought this trend was dying out, but it has recently seen another surge. What do you know about trends related to your book/topic/audience?

3. Similar books. What else has been published on your topic? Have you read all ten books in your category? If you haven’t, you should. You’ll want to know everything you can about what’s out there and how it’s being perceived in the marketplace. It’s never a problem having a similar topic. When I published No More Rejections – Get Published Today, I knew there were other books out there on marketing. I read them all–then angled my book differently.

4. Getting and staying current. What’s going on in your industry today? What are some hot buttons? What are people looking for? What’s next on the horizon for this topic/audience? If you can’t seem to gather this information through traditional channels, why not survey your target audience? There are a number of places to run free surveys, Survey Monkey is one of them: http://www.surveymonkey.com

5. Follow the media. What’s the media talking about these days? Keep track of media buzz–what they’re paying attention to and what they’re writing about. Delve beyond the front page of your paper to the second or third page and see what’s filling the pages. If you can get your hands on out-of-state papers, do a comparative review. Do you see a trend in coverage? Is there something that seems to be getting more buzz even if it’s on page six?

6. Talk, teach, listen. One of the best ways I’ve found to get in touch with my audience was to teach a class and do speaking engagements. When I was putting together my book, Get Published Today, I found that the classes I taught provided valuable information for creating a great book because they put me directly in touch with my audience!

7. Timing is everything. When do you plan to release your tome? Are you releasing around a holiday or anniversary? Could you take advantage of any upcoming event and/or holiday for your book launch?

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Publicity From Thirty Thousand Feet

Sketching out your marketing campaign will also give you a chance to see what’s been leveraging you results and what hasn’t. Keep in mind that some things like bulk sales and national media might take longer than other items so you’ll want to keep putting forth effort toward those long-term goals.

We all know that marketing a book is a process. But sometimes the process takes longer than we’d anticipated. That’s why it’s nice every now and again to hop aboard the publicity jet and get a look-see at what you’ve been doing from the thirty-thousand foot level. Why? Well, first off this birds-eye view will reveal to you areas you might be overlooking or other options for marketing you hadn’t considered.

To accomplish this bird-eye view you’ll want to get yourself a big white board, or something else big enough to chart your flight plan on. Then, once you’ve gotten that start charting the course you’ve taken so far. Don’t leave a single thing out; it doesn’t matter what it is. What you want to end up with is a serious list of everything you’ve done from the time you held your first proof book in your hands.

One of the things this type of a project will do is give you a new perspective on what you’re doing. It will show you areas that you’ve possibly been spending too much time on or potential holes in your campaign. Sketching out your marketing campaign will also give you a chance to see what’s been leveraging you results and what hasn’t. Keep in mind that some things like bulk sales and national media might take longer than other items so you’ll want to keep putting forth effort toward those long-term goals. But let’s say you’ve been spending tons of time doing radio but nothing really seems to be happening in that area. You then look over to your speaking engagement section and realize you haven’t done a lot with that recently. Perhaps it’s time to pull back on radio and start pushing speaking events.

Once you’ve spent a good long time in this birds-eye view mode, start developing a to-do list of items or add to an existing list to help reinvigorate your campaign. One of the many things you’ll learn from doing this thirty-thousand foot perspective is that we often become myopic in our campaigns, focusing too hard in one area and not hard enough in another. Stepping back from your work will allow you the breathing room you need to regroup and reset your goals. Then you can focus in on particular areas or tasks that might need a boost. ‘

It’s been said that a plane flying from Hawaii to Los Angeles is always off by three percent. If left to fly without any adjustments to the course, however slight, the plane would land up in Seattle instead (a difference of almost 1,200 miles!). But through corrections and readjustments the pilot eventually reaches his destination. As you pilot your own campaign, remember: don’t leave your marketing on autopilot. Realign, readjust, and refocus and eventually you too will reach your destination, wherever that might be.

Happy flying!

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Learn how much money you can make selling ebooks online.

One of the most common questions we get at Ebook Architect is ìhow much money will I make selling ebooks? Well, like most businesses the answer will depend on many different factors. For example the amount of time you put into the promotion of your ebook will have a direct consequence on sales and market interest in your ebook topic is another important factor. People who are good at picking good ebook topics and promoting their ebooks usually stand to make a lot of money with ebooks.

How Much Money You Ask?

Some Ebook entrepreneurs lose money in the course of a year while some make hundreds of thousands of dollars. More realistically however is somewhere in between these two points. Many ebook authors make between $5,000 and $20,000 a year.

How to Maximize Ebook Sales

The best way to ensure optimum sales is to constantly promote your ebook. This may mean staying in on weekends and staying up late during the week. Some of the best ways to promote your ebook include buying advertising from large advertising portals such as Google and Yahoo, partaking in link exchanges, writing articles for websites and Ezines, building an information dense website and writing great ebook sales pages. Accomplishing all of this is no minor feat. You should expect to be in product development for between 1-6 months and then the promotional aspect may take another 4-12 months. Itís not necessarily an easy job but as stated above the payoff could be substantial.

Worst Case Scenario

Even if you decide half way through the process that ebook entrepreneurship is not your cup of tea, you will still have written an ebook and be selling it online. That makes you an author; congratulations. Not only will you be an author but your ebook may give you some extra pocket change on a monthly basis. If nothing else, it will be a good learning experience. You have nothing to lose, so why not give it a shot?

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