Friday, August 15, 2014

Do I Need a Marketing Plan? by Sarah Negovetich

You've put in a ton of work getting your book ready for the world. Seriously. A Ton.
First you wrote the book, edited it to within an inch of its life, sent it out to beta readers and critique partners, edited it again, threw it across the room a few times, polished it up, and typed the end. Then you either dug into the query trenches, found an agent and then a publishing house OR you took the indie path and prepared your book for publishing on your own. Either way, when you reach the point that your precious book is about to hit the public in the face with its awesomeness, you've already invested countless hours on it.
So, I can understand why many authors throw their hands in the air and say 'forget it' when the topic of writing a marketing plan comes up. How much more can the world demand of you? You're a writer, darn it, not a marketing guru! Your book will sink or swim based on its merits, not on any publicity you could get.
These are valid emotions to have, but they aren't helpful. In fact, they are counterproductive to the goal you had when you wrote the first sentence of your book. At least, I'm assuming it was your goal to have people read what you write. The truth is, no matter who you are or how good your book is, you need a marketing plan if you have any hope of getting it in the hands of readers. Here's why:
1. A plan keeps you from spinning your wheels.
There are a lot of different ways to market your book. Blog tours, reviews, press releases, vlogs, radio shows, local media, library visits, book signings...well, you get the idea. It's easy to get sucked into the idea that you have to do it all. And without a plan, it's even easier to think that you can.
But you can't do it all. You can't even do half of it. With a plan you can put your activities into a calendar and get a realistic idea of how much marketing you can handle. Without a plan, there's a good chance you'll get sucked into too much. And when you take on too much, you won't be able to do anything to the best of your ability. The result will be a lot of lack luster promotion for your book that is unlikely to achieve the desired result, more sales and more readers.
2. A plan keeps you from spending all your royalties.
Oh, the joy that an author gets from slapping their book cover on every inanimate object within arm's reach. Look, it happens. We want book marks, buttons, tote bags, t-shirts & coffee mugs. And that's just the swag. That doesn't count the cost of shipping, advertising, travel , or all the other little incidentals that can so easily add up. Without a plan you might find yourself with a box full of rubber wristbands and $1.15 left from your advance.
With a plan you can see ahead of time where you need to spend money and how much. You can also see where there are opportunities to save by bargaining, bartering and trading. A marketing campaign can be affordable, but only if you plan to be. A plan lets you keep control of how much you're spending so it's not a surprise when you get to the end of your marketing efforts.
3. A plan lets you work smarter, not harder.
When you know ahead of time what you want to do to market your book, you can coordinate all those ideas to make them work the best together. For example, you would get a better bang for your buck to run a sale at the same time that you purchase advertising or send out all your press releases. Giveaways work best when you coordinate them with a tour or blog hop.
And don't forget, you don't have to do your marketing alone. A plan lets you reach out to other authors and promote your books together, but only if you know ahead of time what you're going to do.
So, are you convinced that you need a marketing plan? Great! I hope you'll join me at the Storymakers Midwest conference on September 20th, 2014. I'll be teaching "Marketing Plan in an Hour" where attendees will leave with an actionable plan for marketing their next project. See you there!

Register for the conference here!

Sarah Negovetich, Corvisiero Literary Agency

Sarah knows you don’t know how to pronounce her name and she’s okay with that. Her first love is YA, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty; it’s accurate if not exactly motivational. We should come up with a better cliche.

Sarah divides her time between her own writing and working with amazing authors as a Jr. Agent and PR Team Leader at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her background is in marketing, which is not as glamorous as it sounds. FYI, your high school algebra teacher was right when they told you every job uses math. Sarah uses her experience to help authors craft amazing stories, build platforms, and promote their work.

Sarah’s conference classes include:
One Hour Marketing Plan
The Agent/Author Relationship (co-taught with Nichole Giles)
Query Letter Workshop (paid class)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Two ways to Show Your Love and Win

Early Bird Registration 

Registration for the 2014 LDStorymakers Midwest Conference IS NOW OPEN! 

So of course we have to celebrate with a contest! This is for all those early birds out there. Anyone who registers in the next month -- before August 1st -- is eligible to enter to win...


Bundle #1
1st chapter critique by Jaclyn Weist
Seat at the VIP dinner table
$20 conference book store credit

Bundle #2
1st chapter critique by Donna Hatch
Seat at the VIP lunch table
$10 conference book store credit

The contest closes August 1st at midnight (PST)

Register for the conference here by August 1st to be automatically entered to win. 

Show Your Love and Win 

It's also time for the annual LDStorymakers Midwest Conference Show Your Love contest! We've held this contest for several years now, and those who participated will tell you - it was loads of fun! 

All you have to do is share the conference. It's that easy, and there are various ways to do that to help you gain more entries. Be sure to mention to your non-writing friends that we have keynote only tickets so anyone can come listen to Adam Glendon Sidwell's keynote.

examples of places you can share
scroll to the bottom of the page to find the items you can share!

Facebook (post or change your cover photo or  profile photo)
Twitter (tweet or change a photo)
Online writing group board or community 
Blog post 
Email friends

contest details
The prizes packages are listed below, so check out the spectacular things you could win. Rafflecopter will choose 6 random winners in order. Sorry, but this contest is only open to those living in the U.S. Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours to claim their prize, or another winner will be chosen. You have from now until the stroke of midnight Central time on August 1st to rack up as many points as you can. Attendees and presenters are eligible. We will announce the winner at the beginning of August.


Bundle #1:
1st Chapter Critique by Melanie Jacobson
Ebooks: Winter Queen by Amber Argyle, Muffins & Murder by Heather Justesen, and The Last Bride by Heather Tullis

Bundle #2:
1st Chapter Critique by Angie Lofthouse
Ebooks: To Sleep No More by Kathleen Marks, Sweet Confections by Danyelle Ferguson, and Dragonbound: Blue Dragon by Rebecca Shelley

Bundle #3:
1st Chapter Critique by Rebecca Belliston
Ebooks: Fallen Angel by Lisa Swinton, Soul Windows by Jaleta Clegg, and Awakening by Christy Dorrity

Bundle #4
1st Chapter Critique by Julie Daines
Ebooks: Family Size by Maria Hoagland, Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena, and Elevated by Elana Johnson

Bundle #5
1st Chapter Critique by Danyelle Ferguson
Ebooks: Reluctant Guardian by Melissa J. Cunningham, The Princess and the Prom Queen by Jaclyn Weist, and
Citizens of Logan Pond: Life by Rebecca Belliston

Bundle #6
1st Chapter Critique by Janette Rallison
Ebooks: Elias of Elderberry by Theresa Sneed, Slayers by C.J. Hill, and 
Trouble at the Red Pueblo by Liz Adair

The contest closes August 1st at midnight (PST).

Additional Entry Points: The Storymakers Badge
Put the Storymakers Badge on your blog/website and you can get an extra entry!

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Profile Picture Image

To stay tuned for future contests and conference updates, join our mailing list HERE (with no more than 12 emails per year, usually on a monthly basis). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

blog post info to share

So what's the LDStorymakers Midwest 2014 Contest? Here's a brief summary, but you can find out more details on their website. The 2014 LDStormaker writers conference will be in Overland Park, KS, on Sept 20. This is the writing conference you can't afford to miss. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sarah Negovetich - Guest Literary Agent, Storymakers Midwest Writers Conference

I'm excited to announce that the 2014 Storymakers Midwest Writers Conference has our very first guest literary agent! Please give a big welcome to . . .

Sarah Negovetich, Corvisiero Literary Agency

Sarah knows you don't know how to pronounce her last name and she's okay with that.

Her first love is YA, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty; it's accurate if not exactly motivational. We should come up with a better cliche.

Sarah divides her time between her own writing and working with amazing authors as a Jr. Agent and PR Team Leader at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her background is in marketing, which is not as glamorous as it sounds. FYI, your high school algebra teacher was right when they told you every job uses math. Sarah uses her experience to help authors craft amazing stories, build platforms, and promote their work.

Sarah reps the fabulous Nichole Giles, who is attending as well. Cyber stalk Sarah on her website, Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr.

Sarah's conference classes include:

One Hour Marketing Plan

The Agent/Author Relationship
(co-taught with Nichole Giles)

Query Letter Workshop
(This class is limited to 15 attendees, queries of any genre, and is a paid intensive class - $20)

***Sarah will not be hosting paid pitch sessions, but will have her contact info available for queries after the conference. 

Please give Sarah a BIG HELLO in the comments!

See you at the conference on Sept. 20th in Kansas City.  =)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Storymakers Midwest Writers Conference Keynote Speaker - Adam Glendon Sidwell

It's time to light the fireworks and bring on the chants of "Woot! Woot!" The Storymakers Midwest Writers Conference registration opens June 2nd at 9 am (CT). This week, we will spotlight our special guests, presenters and some fabulous opportunities for our attendees. Intrigued? You should be!  =)

Today, let's say hello to our amazing dinner keynote . . .

 Adam Glendon Sidwell.

Adam is the author of the amazing children's adventure books, The Evertaster series, as well as his new release, Fetch! Not only do kids think Adam is hilarious, but there's a rumor going around that adults think he's pretty cool, too.

Of course, that could be because he has amazing Patrick Dempsey worthy hair. Or it could be because he designs wicked monsters, zombies and robots in his day job. Say what? Oh yeah, baby. Raise your hand if you're a Pirates of the Caribbean fan. (Hello, Johnny Depp!) Oh wait, Adam didn't have anything to do with Johnny, but all those freaky creatures? Thank you, Adam. His work is also featured in fabulous films such as Tron, Transformers, King Kong, Pacific Rim, and Ender's Game.

Funny children's writer + mad freaky movie creature skills = 
really awesome keynote dude.

And hey, he's teaching classes too!

Growing Up Dangerously (Middle Grade class)

Putting the Movie in Your Head on Paper: Writing Cinematically for Your Novel

You can cyber stalk Adam on his website, Facebook or Twitter

Let's give a big shout out to Adam in the comments section! And mark your calendars to be in Kansas City on Saturday, Sept. 20th!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Janette Rallison's Tips On How to Get the Most Out of a Writing Conference.

So you’ve signed up for conference and you want to know how to get your money’s worth. My advice: Don’t worry about money. As soon as you sell your manuscript, you’ll be super rich.

Ha ha! That’s some author humor for you. (We need to find ways to amuse ourselves, or otherwise we’d cry, and you know how awkward that is. No one likes a writer who is sobbing during lunch.)

Here are 10 tips to help you get the most out of conference.

1)      Come with a learning attitude. If you think your manuscript is perfect, and you’re just at conference to land an agent, you’re going to miss out on some great opportunities to improve your craft. And you can always improve your craft. I’ve had 21 books published, and I’m still learning new things about writing.

2)      Don’t skip classes that deal with other genres. Even if you’re writing science fiction, you can still benefit from a romance class. A romance might be just the thing your robot wars book needs. Ditto if you’re writing romance. Many romances could be improved with a good robot war.  Someday you might want to write YA, or you might want to pump up the suspense or horror in your current work in progress. Check out other genres.

3)      Don’t stalk the agents and editors. Yes, it’s fine to talk to them. Yes, you can ask them questions. They come to conference to help writers and to find new projects—hopefully yours! But be professional. As much as I enjoy hearing editors’ bad-writer stories (One of my editors had someone pitch to her at her mother’s funeral.) you don’t want to become one of those stories. You can’t sell your manuscript anyway—it will always be the manuscript that sells itself.

4)      Send your manuscript to the editors or agents after conference—after you’ve incorporated the things you’ve learned at conference to make your book better. Don’t print out your manuscript and give it to agents or editors at conference. They can’t carry a lot of stuff on the airplane, so they won’t take it—and a bunch of trees somewhere will cry at the paper wasted.

5)      Do stalk the authors. Okay, not really. What I mean is that authors come to conference because for some weird reason we feel compelled to help our competition. It’s probably self-defeating behavior, but we do it anyway. We love other writers. Writers are a special breed of people, and we like connecting with each other. Don’t feel nervous or intimidated to talk to an author. They love hearing that you read their book, or liked their cover, or whatever. Our kids refuse to believe we’re cool, so we enjoy meeting people who think we are.

6)      Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Frequently presenters leave time at the end of their class for questions. Don’t be shy about asking. In fact, don’t be shy at all. If you want to be a successful author, you’ll need to learn to get up in front of people and speak.

7)      Check out the book store. I’m not just telling you this because I don’t want to lug boxes of my books back through the airport. (Although I don’t.)  If you want to be a writer, you need to read. Reading helps you figure out what works and what doesn’t. Every time you don’t finish a book, ask yourself what the author did wrong, and don’t do that thing. If you like a book, reread it. Study it. Mark it up. Also, most authors in the bookstore discount their books, so you can find some great deals. I have it on good authority that Christmas will come this year, as well as all the birthdays you celebrated last year. Books make wonderful gifts. And hey, if you buy one of my books that is half price, your loved ones will think you spent twice as much money as you really did. Score.

8)      Take notes, and be sure to review those notes later as you work on your manuscript. There’s too much to take in during conference and you’ll forget a lot of what the teachers said. But if you’ve got good notes, they’ll be able to help you all year long.

9)      Go to Janette Rallison’s (C.J. Hill) classes. She’s super awesome. Just saying.

10)   Enjoy! Have fun. How often do you get to hang out with a group of people who think that hearing voices is a perfectly acceptable way to work on dialogue? We understand each other. We are a tribe. Make friends. Look into the support/critique groups that are available, such as Authors Incognito, (anyone who goes to conference is eligible to join) LDStorymakers, (anyone who is LDS and has published with a traditional publisher is eligible to join) ANWA (LDS women writers) or Indie Author Hub (LDS self-published authors.) Or start your own critique group with people you make at conference. Have a great time!

Find out more about Janette Rallison and CJ Hill books here. She's a multiple Whitney finalist and well-worth reading. One of my personal favorite authors, actually.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Jenny Proctor Tells You How to Get the Most Out of Your Conference. Don't Listen To Her.

Are you feeling ready for this year’s conference? If you’re taking advice from ALL the right people, you and your critique partner have your matching bedazzled denim jackets ready, you’ve alphabetized your class list and committed to attend every sixth class, and you’ve got your stilettos and garlic flavored breath mints already packed. Those are all very important steps, but there’s one more thing that will make or break your Storymaker experience. Getting the most out of your weekend? It all comes down to ATTITUDE.

I need you to trust me on this one. I know as much about writing conferences as I do about sports analogies. If you want to kick that soccer ball and make a home run? You need to trust my advice.

Here’s the secret: Having a good time at Storymakers isn’t about learning from others. I know, right? Sounds like crazy talk. But seriously. Have you taken a look at the instructor list lately? I mean, Brandon Sanderson has published a lot of books, but what does he REALLY know about writing? His experience can’t be all that different from getting published in a 4th grade poetry anthology, and since you totally managed that when you were 9, I’m pretty sure you know just as much as he does. Even if you don’t, remember, ATTITUDE. Getting far in life, scoring those three pointers on the baseball diamond, it’s all about confidence. No one needs to know you’re making stuff up! I mean, I only had to lie to Melanie Jacobson four times before she asked me to share my wisdom with all of you. And here I am!

My best Storymaker success tips? Plan in advance. Pick your classes ahead of time, and make sure you write down lots of notes. It would probably be best to sit in the front of each class and raise your hand frequently. Maybe just leave it up the ENTIRE time the instructor is talking.( I’ve heard Eddie Schneider in particular really loves this.) You might even just ask if you can take a few minutes to share what you know and then maybe inadvertently (except entirely on purpose) forget to look at the clock and hijack the entire class. Remember, YOU KNOW EVERYTHING. Silly Josie Kilpack. She wasn’t going to say anything useful anyway! The world needs to benefit from YOUR wisdom!

Of course, it isn’t just about classes. Many rooms have microphones—microphones that can be a key part of your path to Storymakers greatness. Grab them at every available opportunity, during meals, during keynote remarks (I’m sorry, Orson, are you using that? I’ll just be a minute) even during the Whitney Awards and LET THE WORLD HEAR YOUR AWESOME.  If microphones aren’t really your thing, you can be just as effective inserting yourself into every conversation possible, particularly those that look private. This is about YOU, remember?

As for agents and editors, remember... they're lucky to be in your presence. You have so much to offer! You wrote poetry in the 4th grade! It’s a big deal for agent Dan Lazar to get to meet you and you should definitely tell him that. Approach as quickly as your stilettos will allow, smile a big garlicky smile, and say with all the confidence and attitude you can muster, “Dan, it’s so nice for you to meet me.”

Editor's note. Jenny is the author of The House at Rose Creek, a Whitney finalist this year in General Fiction. But I mean it: don't listen to Jenny. For other helpful, and okay, not so helpful tips, check out these blog posts too:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Networking for Real by Melanie Jacobson

First, don't listen to Shallee. At least not about this, okay? Don't stalk. It makes people twitchy, and you know . . . all police call-y and whatnot.

You can achieve better results with less effort, people. And that totally sounds like a tagline for a laundry detergent. So maybe that's what I'm giving you: the new and improved detergent for helping you network.

What? That made no sense? Hang in there. The rest of this post will. Probably. (And if you read nothing else, skip to the end because there's some key information highlighted down there that you need)

"Networking" is a fancy way of saying "making friends." Just like real life, getting-them-to-do-stuff for you is not the point of making friends. The point of making friends is . . . well, it's having friends! This is the greatest gift that attending your first writing conference will give you: You will walk out with a feeling of, "These are my people." And that will feel really, really good.

How to network 
You will sit in a giant ballroom with at least 500 other people. The cool thing is, you will automatically have a HUGE thing in common with ALL of them. The fact that you both write--or want to--is an automatic icebreaker with every single person you meet. See how easy this is going to be already? So, when you plop down in a classroom, don't choose the seat that isn't near anyone. (Also don't sit right next to someone if there are only three people in the room. It's weird. It freaks me out when people do that in movie theaters. Why, people? Why?) Give yourself a one seat buffer, or even a one row buffer if that makes you feel better, then turn to the nearest person and smile. If you're bold, say "Hi." And just ask basic questions. Where are they from? What do they write? What do they think of the conference so far? Every single one of those questions will lead to more opportunities for questions as you find common ground. Pretty soon you're having a conversation. If you'd like to keep in touch, offer them a business card or ask if they have one.

It's great if you want to sit with friends at meals and general sessions, but make sure your table includes some unfamiliar faces and get to know them too. And be gracious when people ask to sit at your table. Rosalyn Eves asked to sit at my table last year and I didn't know her and now I love her. And I have another great friend, Kathy, who I met the same way. And several other examples of people who it turned out wrote in the same genre as I do, or loves the same authors as me, or in one case, even lived in my same city and that made me so happy since I'm not in Utah.

Who you want to network with kind of depends on where you are in your writing career.

Novice writers 
You're just starting out. Everything is new, exciting, bewildering, and often overwhelming. You may have one completed manuscript, or might still be working toward that. You probably don't have a critique group yet.
Who you should network with: other writers, published or not.
Why: You will find kindred spirits. I promise. From the struggles with your craft to the specific challenges you have in fitting your writing into your life to trying to shape a good story to your obsessive reading, you'll find someone who experiences those same challenges/feelings/obsessions. And you will immediately feel less at least 50% less crazy. And slightly relieved because now you'll know you're not the only weirdo on the planet--there's at least two of you!
Who you don't need to network with: agents/editors, etc. You're not there yet, and that's fine. It's not a race. It's interesting to learn from them in classes on points of craft, and really helpful to get that high-level perspective, but I promise you, it's not a big deal if you don't talk to them at this conference. Your work isn't ready yet, maybe isn't even finished yet, and it will be some time before you need publishing connections. What you really need are friends who are in the trenches. They will understand your struggles, talk you down from the ledge, critique your work for you, and just be a good thing in your life.

Experienced writers
You're not published yet, but you've got a couple of completed manuscripts. You may have a critique partner/group. You're looking to publish.
Who you should network with: other writers. See above. But also: industry professionals. Find published writers who are with the agent or publisher you're interested in. Ask them about their experiences, what they like and how they went about getting that agent/editor. DON'T ask them to read your manuscript. It's incredibly time-consuming to do right, and for a million reasons, even in a very best case scenario, you're putting that writer in a super awkward position. But DO ask them for what resources they like to use, like what conferences they like, blogs they read, books on craft they've enjoyed. That's what made their writing better, and they'll be happy to share those resources with you. For agents/editors, ask them about the kind of work they're looking for, and what they've read lately and loved. 99% of the time, the conversation will lead to them asking about your work. Have a short, simple CONVERSATIONAL description of what you write ready, but you're not trying to sell them on your book right then. If they're interested, they'll ask for it. If not, don't push it. You'll leave the wrong kind of impression.

Published writers
 You've got a book (or more) out there. But network with other writers anyway. Especially with other published writers who again, and I can't emphasize this enough, will make you feel less crazy. Because if you are crazy, it's a shared hallucination, and that's comforting. Also, on a selfish note, as the conference co-chair I hope you'll be generous in your time with aspiring writers, answer questions patiently, and generally send good vibes out into the writerverse. But on a practical note, you never know when you're talking to an influential blogger who has the ability to put your book in front of a new audience.

How we're going to help you: WE'VE BUILT IN NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOU, no matter where you are on your path. ON FRIDAY NIGHT after the keynote address, we have three different events. You can go to any or all of them. First, we have our Publisher Mingle where representatives of several publishing companies (Deseret Book, Covenant, Whiskey Creek Press, Clean Teen Publishing, and more) will be on hand to answer questions about their companies and what they're looking for. These aren't pitch sessions; this is much less formal, and it's a great opportunity for you to ask questions about these publishers, how they work, what they want, and if they're a good fit for you.

Next, we have our Genre Mingle. We'll have tables, maybe even whole ROOMS, divided into genres so you can sit and chat with other middle grade writers, or mystery writers, or romantic comedy writers, or national market writers, or LDS fiction writers, or what have you. And you can move from genre to genre just chatting if you write in more than one. This will be unstructured and free-flowing so you can chat at your leisure. This might be a good opportunity to find new critique partners or new authors to read.

And we'll have the Authors Incognito Mingle. Authors Incognito is a group of aspiring writers who have attended at least one Storymakers conference. They cheer and support each other and are in general wonderful, friendly, helpful people writing in all kinds of genres. 

Mainly, guys? Just relax and enjoy this. Ask thoughtful (but not overly probing) questions. Answer questions that people ask you. You will meet new people. You will make new friends. You will feel less crazy. You will be glad you came!