Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Notes from a writer's conference, part 2

Here are more of my notes from the Pitch, Publish and Promote conference. I've made no attempt to put these into a narrative, but I think they'll still convey worthwhile information.

The second part featured Bob Sanders, CEO of Mundania Press, which he co-founded to republish the works of Piers Anthony. They publish paranormal fiction. He says that to check the process, he has anonymously submitted work to his own company and been rejected.

It's critical for you as a writer to know your audience. What are their reading tastes? (Genre is a starting point.) What else does the market read? What kind of disposable income do they have? It's not enough to say your audience consists of adult males over 25.

A writer needs a business plan and a marketing plan. The business plan can be brief. Try to write it before finishing your novel.

A publisher looks for a reason to say no. The quickest way to get rejected at Mundania is to not follow submission guidelines.

You should have a critique partner, someone who knows the genre you're writing in.

Market like it's your last day on earth.

The publisher sells the book to book buyers.

The author has to market the book to the reading public.

Use Yahoo groups to set up a small focus group to test your work.

An author's business plan should encompass not just one book, but your writing career. Who will sell your books? Who is your fan base? What media will you use to reach them? What is your vision for your writing career? Answer the Who, What, Where, When, Why, How.

Set your expectations for a given time frame. How much time do you realistically have to write?
Think about why the audience should care about your books? Why should they enjoy them?

Your marketing plan deals with the individual books.

Set objectives--what do you want to accomplish? Three objectives you want to accomplish within a year, for example. Share this plan with friends and family.

Need to set measureable goals--describe the activity required, what will happen and when, and what is the expected financial impact.

An author needs visibility and mystique (referring to how the person appears to the public). Look the part for the type of author you are and the type of business personality that's appropriate for the kind of writing you do.

Where to find customers:

  • Workshops/associations
  • Newspapers/publishers/coalitions
  • Referrals
  • Internet/TV/radio
  • Trade journals

Considerations in thinking about your potential customers:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income/occupation/education
  • Purchasing loyalty
  • Hobbies
  • Social class/lifestyle

Think about how you'll promote to the top three categories of readers.

A question he posed over and over: "Is the juice worth the squeeze?" Always consider whether any given effort is worth the expected result.

Make use of Google and Yahoo. Leverage your resources.

List the problems you're facing:

  • What's the root cause?
  • What needs to change?
  • How will I measure results?

Hold online writing workshops, as does paranormal author Michele Bardsley.

Authors can coordinate group ads.

Find and develop a niche.


Plan on the specific actions you intend to accomplish, then do it. ("Plan the work, work the plan.") Say how you'll do something and why--specific tasks that will affect the bottom line.

Think about where your time and attention are going.

Regularly re-evaluate your plans. Treat your writing like a business.

Don't give the public too much information about yourself.

Mentioned: Fictionwise

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