Saturday, July 18, 2015

Just Wonderin': About Those Expensive Writers' Organizations

When I was starting out in journalism at The Salt Lake Tribune, I often helped with the layout of some of the news pages. Part of that job was editing some of the column we got from news services like AP down to fit in the editorial space left after the advertising department had laid out their advertising for the day. That meant I was shortening some of the biggest and best known columnist of the time--and writing headlines for them. One of them was Ann Landers. Reading her advice was my favorite part of this duty. So now I include a similar column in my free #SharingwithWriters newsletter like the one below. You can get your full dose of writing advice by sending me an e-mail with "Subscribe" in the subject line to HoJoNews@AOL.com. Yes, I'll do it for you! I like to meet my subscribers "personally" when I can. 
 
 
Q&A a la Ann Landers

So, Just Why Should I Bother With Writing Organizations Again?

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QUESTION

Hi Carolyn,
I recently paid $100 to sign up to IBPA (Independent Book Publishers of America) and I am regretting it thus far. Am I missing something, or are all of the benefits they offer at an additional fee. It seems the only thing I get from them is their magazine. Hardly worth the price of admission. What do you use on their site, Net Galley? PR service. Do you pay to have them put your books at the book fairs?

I am curious because I have looked closely at the site and all of the member benefits are more money.

Thanks
Name Withheld

ANSWER

Each book and each author or publisher will benefit in different ways from IBPA and other organizations, but the Net Galley is wildly popular because it helps authors send out lots of review copies on a limited budget  The media release service discount helps anyone who uses them and, on occasion, news an author wants to disseminate is so newsworthy that they should try it (and discounts are always help!)

Also, you are good at writing content and I think you should keep submitting articles to them based on what you see (or don’t see!) in the magazine. They also like success stories from their members. Contact one of their regular contributors Linda Carlson and ask her what she needs. When I can contribute something positive and useful, I answer the questions Linda and others send me for the articles they are writing.  I have also written letters to the editor which have been published and sent releases of interest to writers for their online newsletter. And that is all at no additional cost. In general, to make any organization work for us, we authors need to get in there and make them know us.  

You’ll also want to check out their forum. Answer others questions and pose questions of your own. These are all important no matter what organization you join; it's not only a place to learn and help others, it's a place to gain name exposure. 

My husband Lance had good success with their library mailing for his What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z (http://amzn.to/ForeignersAmericaUS) but he carefully chose from among the many catalogs they offer just because they are expensive. I think librarians were interested because immigrants are in the news right now and his book is perfect for that audience.

In general, don’t let your membership go idle. Use this first year to dig in and see how much you can benefit from it. I haven’t been to their conferences, but I’ve never been to any conference that I didn’t learn something new or meet someone I need to know.

CHJ

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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 .

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