Monday, March 26, 2018

Tip Time

It's Tip Time!  This month, I thought I would talk a bit about first chapter faux pas, which I originally did a webinar on for Pitch Wars earlier this month


I had a lot of fun preparing for the webinar and speaking to everyone, and because I want all of you to get to hear the thoughts I had about how to craft the best first chapter and what pitfalls to avoid as you do, I decided to share the audio and slides from the webinar, which you can download here

You can also watch the video below:



Chime in with your comments once you've had a chance to listen/watch!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Self-Promotion for Authors

Hi, everyone! This week, my blog is being taken over by one of my wonderful interns, the wonderful Tarie, with a special guest post...here she is!!



You’ve worked really hard and written an amazing book. Your publisher has promotional plans and of course, you’d like to help spread the good news about your book. You’d like to reach as many readers as possible! How can you promote yourself as an author and your book? There are tons of ways you can promote yourself and your book but I’d like to focus on the three ways I feel most strongly about as a book blogger, educator, and reading advocate.

Have an online presence.

This seems like a no-brainer but I’m surprised by the number of times I’ve learned about a new book through Publishers Weekly, Publishers Marketplace, or publishing professionals, googled the author’s name and found . . . nothing. No social media accounts, no author website, no author bio on the publisher’s website or on other websites (Goodreads, Amazon, etc.). This is very disappointing for readers who are excited about a new book. We want to stalk support you!

I know that not everyone is interested in social media and not everyone has the time for social media, but even just a minimal online presence will help you self-promote. It can be just a simple blog or website with a book blurb, brief author bio, and contact details for you and/or your agent. Please make sure that this is ready when your book deal is announced. Request that your publisher keeps their web page for your book updated. We book lovers really appreciate a reliable source of information about you and your book. It helps us get our wallets ready for that release date, spread the buzz, and invite you to festivals and other bookish events!

Engage with readers.

One of the best ways to self-promote is to be part of a reading community, whether online or IRL. There are SO MANY passionate readers and reading communities. Be inspired by their super impressive posts/updates on bookstagram, booktube, and other online platforms (blogs, Twitter, Snapchat, the list goes on and on). Comment on their posts. Show appreciation for all the hard work they put into their posts. Get book recs from them and share book recs with them. Fangirl/fanboy over your mutual faves. Attend reading conventions. Volunteer at your local library or bookstore and actively participate in their events. Join book clubs and participate in book discussions.

When engaging with readers, don’t make things all about YOU and YOUR book. Don’t try to somehow relate all topics or posts to you and your book. That’s not engaging with readers, that’s spamming readers. That’s the fastest way to turn readers off. (I’m also surprised and disappointed by the number of times I’ve seen authors do this.) Chances are if you’re an author you’re also a book lover. Connect with other readers because you want to discuss books. Be part of a reading community to express love for books and to help spread that love. Yes, it’s also a way for more readers to become aware of you and your work. My friends and I have discovered many authors by interacting with them as fellow book lovers! We’re all naturally curious about the people we have great bookish discussions with online or IRL.

For authors of children’s books: Share lesson plans and classroom activities for your book.

Sharing lesson plans, classroom activities, and book club activities for your book is an excellent way to reach out to the school and library markets. Teachers and librarians are super busy and they really appreciate it when a recommended book comes with fun, helpful lesson plans or activities. You’ll also catch the attention of parents who love to buy books that are entertaining AND educational for their children. Share how your book can be used in English, science, or history classes. What are some questions that can help facilitate a discussion of your book? Can your book be used to introduce new vocabulary or demonstrate a grammar point? Is your book a possible springboard for a discussion on current issues/events? How about recommending snacks, games, a playlist, or a movie for a book club party inspired by your book or by the theme/s in your book? The possibilities are endless!

You can design lesson plans and activities yourself or enlist the help of your teacher and librarian friends. Share through your website and social media accounts or through your publisher. You can also directly contact local schools and libraries. When promoting your book, don’t be shy, but also don’t be pushy. 

For more thoughts and tips on self-promotion for authors, read these posts by Carrie!

      

                

Monday, March 12, 2018

Query Critique Winner

Josee is lucky #8 this month.  Congrats, Josee!  Here is her original query:

Dear Carrie,

Thank you so much for this incredible opportunity. A HOPE TO BUILD ON is the first in my ETERNAL HOPE series, set in southern Quebec and northern New England, where love and loss are inescapable, making the hard-earned happy endings that much sweeter. A character-driven contemporary romance, my novel is complete at 70,000 words. Fans of RaeAnneThayne would enjoy my series.
 Single mom Julianne Thomas is ready to move forward with a life she’s put on hold since the death of her husband two years ago. At the top of her list: finally making use of that interior design degree. Not on her list: fighting her intense attraction to the gorgeous young contractor whose house she designs. Ryan Coulter doesn’t have a list, and he doesn’t have time for distractions–especially since he’s recently moved back to Dunham, Vermont to rebuild his life. But the beautiful designer’s grace and heart tear down the walls Ryan put up after his heartbreak. Love takes Ryan and Julianne by surprise… until they discover they are bound together in a way neither expected. Will the revelation cause irreparable damage, or will Ryan and Julianne grab onto their second chance at love?

I am a full-time writer and an active PRO member of RWA. As a ghostwriter, I have written articles for bridal magazines, mom blogs, and a quarterly. Currently, I work with multi-published authors and other critique partners to strengthen my writing. My manuscripts have won several RWA Chapter contests and I regularly attend workshops and conferences to improve my skill-set. My monthly newsletter continues to attract new subscribers through various social media platforms.
 I am looking for someone with whom I can partner for long-term career planning. If you would consider an addition to your literary family, I hope to hear from you. Thank you for your time. 
Kind regards,
Josee Telfer

And here is my critique:

Dear Carrie,

Thank you so much for this incredible opportunity. A HOPE TO BUILD ON is the first in my ETERNAL HOPE series, set in southern Quebec and northern New England, where love and loss are inescapable, making the hard-earned happy endings that much sweeter. A character-driven contemporary romance, my novel is complete at 70,000 words. Fans of RaeAnneThayne would enjoy my series.
 Single mom Julianne Thomas is ready to move forward with a life she’s put on hold since the death of her husband two years ago. At the top of her list: finally making use of that interior design degree. Not on her list: fighting her intense attraction to the gorgeous young contractor whose house she designs. Ryan Coulter doesn’t have a list, and he doesn’t have time for distractions–especially since he’s recently moved back to Dunham, Vermont to rebuild his life. But the beautiful designer’s grace and heart tear down the walls Ryan put up after his heartbreak. [This reads a bit too vague.  Instead, I would show specific examples of when he starts to fall in love, e.g. "But he can't ignore his attraction to Julianne and the way that XX happens as they work on XX."] Love As their relationship grows, love takes Ryan and Julianne by surprise… until they discover they are bound together in a way neither expected. Will the revelation cause irreparable damage, or will Ryan and Julianne grab onto their second chance at love?

A HOPE TO BUILD ON is the first in my ETERNAL HOPE series, set in southern Quebec and northern New England, where love and loss are inescapable, making the hard-earned happy endings that much sweeter. A character-driven contemporary romance, my novel is complete at 70,000 words. Fans of Rae Anne Thayne would enjoy my series.

I am a full-time writer and an active PRO member of RWA. As a ghostwriter, I have written articles for bridal magazines, mom blogs, and a quarterly. Currently, I work with multi-published authors and other critique partners to strengthen my writing. My manuscripts have won several RWA Chapter contests and I regularly attend workshops and conferences to improve my skill-set. My monthly newsletter continues to attract new subscribers through various social media platforms.
 I am looking for someone with whom I can partner for long-term career planning. If you would consider an addition to your literary family, I hope to hear from you. [This is a personal preference, but when receiving queries, I prefer to just have an author ask me to request more if interested, rather than talking about potential representation at this point.  I think this is better to have in an email after an agent has requested pages.] Given your background, I thought that A HOPE TO BUILD ON might be a great fit for you.  If you are interested in reading more, please let me know! Thank you for your time. 
Kind regards,
Josee Telfer

As you see, I don't have many changes for this query--just moving some things around.  This does a fantastic job of drawing us into the story and romance and giving us a great idea of what this story is about, as well as its voice and characters.  Great job, Josiee!  This is a really solid romance query!  Please let me know if you have any questions about my edits/thoughts.  And everyone else, chime in with comments below!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Happy Pub Day!

Tomorrow is the pub day for the next book in Erin Peabody's Behind the Legend series: DRAGONS!  This fun series looks at creatures and monsters throughout history and analyzes them through a scientific, myth-busting lens, debating whether or not the sightings and evidence provided are adequate proof of their existence.  There are five others books in the series and the first book received a starred Booklist review!  I'm excited to have Erin here to talk about DRAGONS today!




Tell us a bit about this book and how it has been writing this series, now that you have time to reflect on it as a whole.

In DRAGONS, young readers are whisked away to ancient, faraway lands to learn more about the fire-breathing beasts that have long enthralled people from around the world. Most of us are familiar with two of the most popular dragon legends. One is the dark and brooding medieval monster that was famously challenged with lance and shield; the other, his polar opposite, is the vibrant, wise and lucky creature that’s been revered for thousands of years in places like China and Japan. But there are numerous other thrilling dragon types and tales.

Have you heard of the brightly feathered dragon that supposedly blazed across the skies of ancient Mexico? What about other menacing dragonlike creatures, like wicked worms (or “orms”) and leeches, which allegedly terrorized the European countryside? And forget about those shining knights. Did you know that many of the bravest dragon slayers across history were women—including one who tamed her scaled attacker using a rather surprising wardrobe accessory?!


Digging up such lesser-known and silly details has been my favorite part of working on the BEHIND THE LEGEND series. And all the books, including BIGFOOT, THE LOCH NESS MONSTER, WEREWOLVES, ZOMBIES, UNICORNS and now DRAGONS, have revealed to me just how important our myths and monsters are to us. Fantastic creatures, especially dragons, unicorns and zombies, are incredibly powerful constructs of the human heart. They’re basically caricatures of our best—but also worst—selves. 

How did you research this book?

By obsessively reading as many books about dragons as I could! Over the last several months, I’ve checked out dozens upon dozens of books about Bigfoot, werewolves, zombies and dragons—probably much to the alarm of my local librarians! But perusing as much literature on a subject as possible enables a writer to find, hopefully, at least a few dazzling nuggets to include in her book.

Did you feel like you were involved in the various stages your book went through?  Tell us a bit about the editorial process for this series.

Absolutely. My primary editor, Charlie Ilgunas (Little Bee Books) was great to work with. He provided overarching support and guidance but was also clever enough, when reading through drafts, to point out any perceived historical discrepancies. I also worked with some incredible copyeditors who helped me pinpoint and/or confirm numerous hard-to-find historical details. Since this series encourages kids to honor facts and the scientific method, we owed it to them to get the details, even the most obscure, as accurate as possible.

What kind of marketing have you done to promote this book and this series?

Researching, writing and revising takes up the bulk of a writer’s time, but promotion is crucial and can also be lots of fun. I try to make it to as many local bookstores and schools as I can and participate in book fairs each year. Getting to know your local booksellers and their staff is one of the best bits of advice I’ve received, and can pass along!

What part of the publication process has been the most interesting/fun? What part has been the hardest? 

Researching and reading is my favorite part, as well as crafting a narrative arc in which to organize all the fascinating stories and bits of information. The absolute best part, though, is getting to meet fans and kids who enjoy the books and subject matter.

The most challenging part is the tedious work of hunting down details, many of which were first written about in ancient times. Take, for instance, St. George, the valiant soldier who, according to thirteenth century European legend, heroically slayed a dragon. While it would be optimal to include George’s last name and some other personal details about him, I simply couldn’t. Such information appears to be lost to history. (Of course, that could change as new historical documents are unearthed or old ones freshly interpreted.)

Do you have any quirks when it comes to your writing process (e.g. do you have to write at night or while wearing lucky socks)? 


Oh, many!! But I’m not sure how many directly affect my writing! I think most writers would agree that it’s great when you can be comfortable when you write…say, on a cozy sofa with a favorite beverage nearby. But I’d have to attribute some of my best creative inspiration to my 10-year-old daughter—a light-hearted unicorn aficionado and incessant doodler whose silly sketches fill the margins of my writing notebooks. Her wacky enthusiasm helps free my mind and recharge my curiosity. And curiosity is probably a writer’s most critical tool.