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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

One Lovely Thank You Note a Day: This is What Carolyn See May Have Meant

In one of her books on writing, Carolyn See advises authors to write one lovely thank you note a day, the emphasis on "lovely." Lots of authors are good at writing thank you notes, especially since e-mail has made it so easy. But "lovely?"  We are all pressed for time.

Still, I have one reader who has sent me several that are examples of the kind of letter I think See would have approved of. Her name is Marlan Warren and she gave me permission to reprint her letter if I thought it would help other writers do something similar--or at least to nudge them to write their letters.  I mean, a note like this can make an author so happy! And the words from a smart publicist are an added bonus!

Dear Carolyn:

I really enjoyed your interview with Maxine Thompson on the Artist First Radio Network last night.
I felt privileged to hear you and Maxine discuss literature, writers, writing, and your own great how-to knowledge (I’m a huge fan of your How to Do It Frugally series and now a fan of Maxine's show). You are two Old School pros who know better than anyone that being a great writer or editor means more than having been at the top of your class in English.

I especially liked your tip to "Promote the Promotion." This is what I try to explain to my PR/Marketing clients, but it is hard for them to grasp. Most think it's enough to post a "Hey! Buy my book!" on social media and leave it at that.

Your discussion with Maxine about editing was spot on. Didn't she say something about refusing to promote a book that is not ready? I do the same thing. You explained today’s indie author marketing environment perfectly: the Internet has provided new venues for people who want to get their writing "out there," but it has also opened the floodgates for sloppy writing and presentations.

I recently received a book from a small press, and the first thing I noticed was a typo on the back cover. Newbie authors often think this is no big deal, not realizing the book will never be opened by a media host if they spot such an error.

Many inexperienced writers/authors I meet confess to feeling bored with the book after they’ve published it: "Never mind about promoting Book No. 1...I've started writing Book No. 2!"

Gives a whole new image to the phrase “pleasuring oneself,” doesn’t it?

Thanks again, Carolyn and Maxine!

Keep on truckin'!


Marlan Warren

ABOUT THE LETTER-WRITER (-: 

Marlan Warren offers PR/Marketing services for authors (Book Publicity by Marlan) and the rest (Roadmap Communications). She reviews for The Midwest Book Review, and is the author of the novel, Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged: All’s Not Fair in Love or War. The last book she edited is the upcoming The First Practical Handbook for Crazy People by Shelly and Sherry Glaser. A seasoned journalist, Marlan is also a contributor to No Depression Magazine.

https://bay177.mail.live.com/ol/clear.gifhttps://bay177.mail.live.com/ol/clear.gifE-Mail: memoircity@gmail.com
Twitter: @marlanwarren

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 Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Thursday, May 12, 2016

What to Say to Edtors to Get Free Publicity



I thought I’d share a pitch I wrote to my local newspapers in April for Earth Day. It illustrates how we authors need to figure out how to make a query work for their particular title—in whatever news cycle might apply to its theme, characters, settings, or whatever.  

This query matches my poetry book (with Magdalena Ball) called Sublime Planet with Earth Day, but you might adapt yours to other holidays or current events. I also include a few basic dos and don’ts at the end of the query letter. And, if you are a blogger or have a radio show or about anything else that would benefit from a current topic like this, feel free to contact me at hojonews@aol.com. I mean, have at it! (-: Magdalena and I have poetry chapbooks that celebrate most of the major holidays in any given year.  Here it is: 

Hi, I’m an award-winning author who knows how hard it is to find good stories for Earth Day or to fit with current news about global warming which we both know is always a topic of interest.

Earth Day is sneaking up on us but I have an idea for you that will help the environmentalists in your audience celebrate. They’ll love the accessible poems about the fragility of our cosmos by my Aussie poetry partner Magdalena Ball and I. We love to share my poems about XXX and XXX. (In fact, I welcome reprints of any of my poems from any of my award-winning poetry books!) 

Further there is a feature story in how we came to be partners living in separate hemispheres without having ever met. I can schedule interviews just about any time that works for you.

Please let my Sublime Planet poetry book help you with a feature story this month—one probably unlike one you have ever published.
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Here are the tips I promised you readers of this SharingwithWriters blog:

Notice that I didn’t bother giving the editor my name. Unless your name is already known by the contact or you are as famous as J. K. Rowling, it isn’t necessary and just keeps you from the interesting stuff that will help them choose your idea for their book page, blog post, entertainment section, radio show or whatever it is that they do.

I also didn’t mention the title in the first sentence. The only time that should come up front is if it is very catchy or outrageous.

Notice how precise the idea is. Query letters need to be clear about the benefits for the media or editor (they need material for current events and holidays). Editors are perfectly capable of moving from the particular to the general or adapting one detailed idea to another of their needs.


By the way, sending media releases—even releases that get ignored--benefits you because you can contact the same editor for the next holiday or current event. Soon they will have come to expect ideas from you that are well considered for their needs. I included another script by well-known publicist Raleigh Pinsky that you can use as a template in my Appendix of my The Frugal Book Promoter. Well-known publicist Raleigh Pinksky gave me permission to reprint it and it will give you even more detail for formulating pitches—in this case telephone pitches—that work.

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 Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Treacy Colbert Sells Book Using Great First Impression Book Proposal

I was editing the praise page for my coming book, Getting Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically and ran across this old review by Treacy Colbert of one of the quick and easy booklets in my multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of booklets . Her comment "'This is a really smart proposal,' was one comment from an agent who went on to sell my nonfiction book to a publisher. The "smartest" thing about it? I used Carolyn's guide to write it!" made me think it has been a long time since I gave my SharingwithWriters subscribers and visitors information on book proposals. Then it occurred to me that for $6.95 and only 30 minutes you should get all the information in the booklet. You just don't have to read a tome on this subject to succeed!
  

TheGreat First Impression Book Proposal:
Subtitle: Everything You Need to Know to Impress a Publisher in Thirty Minutes or Less
HowToDoItFrugally Series for Writers
Genre: Nonfiction: How-To, Writing, Marketing
ISBN: 9781453690956
Available on Amazon as a
paperback and e-book
Paperback: $6.95
Free digital copy when you purchase paperback with Amazon’s Matchbook program

Reviewed by Treacy Colbert originally for Amazon

I have relied on this wonderful little guide when writing previous book proposals, and got it out again this morning as I am starting a new one. Carolyn strips all the intimidation out of writing a book proposal. Her clear, hands-on advice makes proposal writing not only less daunting, but in fact enjoyable. 

"This is a really smart proposal," was one comment from an agent who went on to sell my nonfiction book to a publisher. The "smartest" thing about it? I used Carolyn's guide to write it! 
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Treacy Colbert is a medical writer based in Southern California. She is co-author of End Your Menopause Misery and Before It's Too Late. When she isn't writing about health and medicine, she explores love, death, and 3-In-One Oil on her blog, The Green Side of the Grass.

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 Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Laverne H. Bardy Clarify's Writers' Biggest Dilemma: Voice

I find that the concept of voice is one of the hardest things to teach. I shall forever use this little essay from Syndicated Humor Columnist Laverne H. Bardy to introduce the topic! Enjoy!



FINDING YOUR VOICE
By Laverne H. Bardy

Writers are repeatedly told how important it is to find their voice. For me, this was the most difficult part of writing. It took many years of stumbling, guessing, and emulating before that finally happened. I had difficulty understanding what, exactly, it meant. Now that I get it, I’ve devised a simple way to explain it:

You have a room with a couch, a piano, a coffee table, two arm chairs, an end table with a lamp, and an area rug. Other than knowing you have a room filled with furniture, it says nothing about who you are.

 On one side of the piano top, position several colorful ceramic pieces, and a group of family photos on the other side. Place long stemmed roses in a tall crystal vase on the end table. Arrange three pillows that pick up the rug colors, on the couch, and a large floral centerpiece on the coffee table. Create a unique window treatment. Set a tall green plant in a corner behind one arm chair, an arranged stack of books on one corner of the coffee table and a large, unique focal piece in the center. Drape green vines over one side of the entrance way and hang a large floral painting over the piano.

Now, I know who you are.

Finding your voice in writing is much like decorating a room. The room is your chosen genre. How you express yourself in that genre is your voice. Countless writers will start out with the exact genre, but each will end up with entirely different stories because each has its own unique voice.

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Learn more about Laverne H. Bardy on her website: www.lavernebardy.com. Read some of her Huffington Post blogs at http://www.HuffingtonPost.com/laverne-h-bardy She is syndicated with: www.SeniorWire.net, the author of How the (Bleep) Did I Get This Old?
and a freelance writer. Read her fun book:  How the (Bleep) Did I Get This Old .


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 Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Loving and Hating Rejection Letters


I'm sharing with you an example of the kind of rejection every author wants to get--with a reservation (of course!) 

Still, I’m hugely grateful for it and happy to put myself on the line so you may benefit from it, too.  It is a rarity among the finer and more established literary journals in the world. 

Most journals send canned rejections. But if you watch for clues, you can tell which submissions will reap the most benefit.  As an example, sometimes they offer a subscription to their journal with your entry fee.  Some say you will get input from the judges. And some, like Missouri Review, send you rejections that make you feel good instead of lousy!  Keep reading for info on one of their contests! 

But back to the rejection and my not-so-grateful reaction to it:


From: Missouri Review <submissions@missourireview.org>
Date: February 9, 2016 at 9:37:43 AM PST
To:
hojonews@aol.com
Subject: Your submission to Missouri Review
Dear Carolyn Howard-Johnson,

Thank you for sending us "The True Big Bass Story".

This is a delightful story with a great grasp of narrative movement, plot, and strong insights on the world of journalism.

Unfortunately this particular piece was not a right fit for Missouri Review, but we were very impressed by your writing. We hope that you will feel encouraged by this short note and send us something else.

We look forward to reading more.

Sincerely,

The Editors of Missouri Review

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We’re awarding a $1,000 first prize in Prose, Poetry, Audio Documentary and Humor categories in our 9th Annual Miller Audio Prize audio competition. Send us your entries by March 15, 2016.


The only additional thing I could have asked for (would it be presumptuous of me to ask?) is, why would a story with bigotry as a theme be “not right” for a literary journal in a state that still harbors much bigotry—and don’t all journals (states) fall into that category? 

I guess I am like everyone else. I'd rather get an acceptance in my e-mail box. 


Happy submitting!


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 Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .