Networking. It Doesn't Have to be Intimidating!

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Networking has never come easily to me. Somehow, anything that had to do with selling myself as a skilled professional sounded too far from being humble, which is what my upbringing was based on.  But being an author and a publicist required that I challenge myself outside of my bubble in order to achieve my professional goals.  In the beginning, I found it very difficult but as I kept at it, it became easier. Currently, networking for me happens naturally. Below are some tips about putting yourself out there!

•    The first trick is to practice with the people you encounter in your personal life. Almost always when you meet someone new the question of ‘what do you do for a living’ pops up. I used to respond with a short answer followed by ‘what about you’. Instead, we should take our time to answer, and offer information such as our website and book title. Then wait one second to give that person time to ask more questions. If no more questions happen at the moment, then follow up with, ‘how about you?’

•    Most of us wrote a book because we are passionate about the topic we wrote about, or passionate about writing. So, when talking about what you do for a living, make sure you reflect your passion for it and continue the conversation by asking if they ever thought about writing a book. Welcome questions about the topic or your career, but if the conversation on the topic doesn’t spark, change the topic and focus on the person’s career.

•    Don’t wait for networking events to network. In all honesty, I have never made any contacts from organized networking events that have resulted in any business collaboration.  However, I have gotten new customers or vendors from casual meetings or gatherings.

When it comes to networking, there is no right and wrong. Just make it casual and have fun with it! For more information on how we help authors visit us at www.bookbybookpublicity.com.

 

Writing a Negative Review

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Let’s face it, being a reviewer does not mean liking all books. There is a big chance that a book will not live up to the expectation of a reviewer, and thus result in a negative review. Other books simply do not even meet publishing standards in writing, editing, or production, in which case reviewers have trouble even completing the book. Being an author and a reviewer, I get both sides of the coin, and I have written many editorials from the author’s point of view about receiving a negative review of their title. This time, I want to focus on the reviewer’s end in hopes of helping reviewers write honest negative reviews, while remaining respectful and professional. Here are some tips on writing negative reviews:

·         Do not let it get personal or be bias. No title is ever imposed on a reviewer. Actually, they pretty much review only what they choose themselves. There is no need to take the author’s opinions personally and reflect that in the review. A review should be just an opinion of the storyline, the writer’s craft, and the book’s production. If a reviewer has strong religious convictions and is not open to other opinions, for example, then that reviewer should keep their feelings about it away from the review, or stop reviewing titles under the Religion genre.

·         Develop Communication and Writing Skills. Being a reviewer is not all about reading; it has a lot to do with communication and the ability to express an opinion to an audience in writing. The success of a reviewer is actually measured on the size of their following audience, not on the number of reviews under their belt. This fact indicates the importance of the quality of their writing skills. If a reviewer communicates honestly and skillfully, the audience will look for that opinion before deciding to purchase a book. Readers want an impartial opinion about titles that will communicate to them the positive and negatives of the book as a product, so that they can decide whether to invest their money in it or not.

·         Enjoy Reviewing. There are two kinds of reviewers. The ones that read because they love it, and get into reviewing; and the ones that won’t read unless they are reviewing. To the second type I say, please just stop. As a bookworm (writing and reading), I got into reviewing because I not only love to read, I also love to write, and even more, I love talking about what I read! Because I am having fun doing reviews, I will always find a positive and a negative on everything I read. Actually, sometimes I only find positives…but my point is that since I am reviewing only what I like to read, I will always be able to find a positive worth mentioning in my reviews, even when writing a negative review.

Even if the book had flaws, or did not live up to the reviewer’s expectations, a reviewer needs to be respectful of the author’s efforts by choosing their words carefully when pointing out those flaws. There is no reason to be offensive when being honest, and reviewers who are passionate about books and reviewing will enjoy the process of writing a review that will be honest, yet respectful.

Reviewers have the power to convince others whether or not to purchase a product. There is a big responsibility with this power, so why not use it to offer constructive criticism in ways that help an author improve, instead of being offensive when delivering a negative review? To learn more about becoming a book reviewer visit: http://readerviews.com/become-a-reviewer/.

Categorizing Your Title in a Literary Awards Contest

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

With the autumn season approaching, the deadline for our annual literary awards gets closer and closer.  As the submissions roll in, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some awards wisdom with our authors!

•         Each literary awards contest has different guidelines, categories, and submission requirements. When submitting to various contests, it is always a good idea to keep a log that not only keeps track of when you sent each one but also shows the guidelines, fees, categories submitted to, etc. Doing this will help to keep track of the current submissions, and it will also create a chart with information about each contest, which will be helpful for your next books.

·         The genre of the title should be the main category to enter in the contest. Does this mean that it must be the only one? The answer is no. A literary novel, for example, could also be historical fiction, mystery, thriller, or all of the above! Consider submitting the title in a few categories, or even submitting the title in different categories for different contests to improve the chances of scoring an award!

·         Choosing which category to enter in an awards contest is important mostly because the category selected will determine the judge who will read the book. If the author chooses to enter their Christian fiction title in the general fiction category, it will be reviewed by a judge who prefers to read general fiction. A better fit for the title would be the judge that reads Christian fiction titles. It is essential to choose the category that is the best fit for the book’s topic.

·         As some categories are more generalized, they will have more submissions than the more specific ones. In other words, the fewer the number of titles in a category, and the number of categories entered improves the chances of being picked as finalist or winner.

In the end, all authors want their title to make a good show. When shooting to win, competitors need to make sure they give their submission the best possible chance. In my opinion, the key is to categorize the book correctly, and even submitting in different categories applicable to the book’s topic. Keeping all this information straight and organized will also help when strategizing submissions and make the process easier for your next title. For more information about the Reader Views Literary Awards, click here.

Positive Review but Missing the Point - What to Do?

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Through the years helping authors get their books reviewed we find that sometimes even though the reviewer liked the book, the author didn’t like the review! Of course, all reviews have gray areas. Sometimes, the story is amazing but lacks editing. Other times, the book is perfect technically, but the plot is weak. On occasion, however, the review comes back positive, yet it’s evident to the author that the reviewer got it all wrong! Dealing with these cases is tricky because although as authors we put a big effort on communicating a specific message through our writing skills, we have no way to guarantee that all readers will get it because the author can’t be next to every reader and explain as they read. Furthermore, even though they didn’t get it, they liked the book! Here are some tips on how to handle positive reviews that are totally missing the point:

·         Do not assume that the reviewer didn’t read the book. Reviewers love to read, that is why they take the time out of their lives, work, and any other thing they have going on. They love to read. They gain nothing by writing a review, yet they do it because they get books to read, and they get to talk about them!

·         Just because the reviewer is an avid reader or is knowledgeable of the topic of your book, doesn’t mean that they can’t make a mistake writing the review or miss the point, or even get facts wrong. They are as human as authors!

·         The first thing an author needs to do after acknowledging the first two points above is determine exactly what is wrong. Are any of the characters’ names wrong? Location? If a non-fiction book, are any of the facts mentioned on the review wrong? Wrong does not mean how they wrote the review, or how they expressed themselves.

·         Be nice. The reviewer is not out to sabotage the author’s success. The author should ask questions like if there was anything in the writing that lead them to miss their point. If it was an error on the review, simply point it out and ask them to correct it. Being nice and taking the opportunity to connect with the reviewer as a reader can be helpful to your writing as well as to your PR as many reviewers are also bloggers.

Finally, remember that there will always be readers that won’t get it, and if, unfortunately, that one ended up being a reviewer, just have another reviewer check your book out, and ask them to look into the aspects of the book that the other one didn’t get…maybe they had a point after all and something can be done quickly to correct the problem; or there is nothing wrong, and now you have a better review! For more information on how we help authors visit us at www.bookbybookpublicity.com.

 

Narrative Slayers

 Sheri Hoyte Managing Editor

Sheri Hoyte
Managing Editor

Be honest with me, if I had called this week's editorial, “Qualifiers, Indefinite Modifiers, and Intensifiers” would you have even clicked on the article? But that’s just what they are – narrative slayers, and they are out to sabotage writing everywhere.

I recently finished reading Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones,” a wealth of information for writers of every level. In one of the chapters, she discusses an article she had read about a study that was done in the 70s on women and language.  This study found women often added qualifiers and indefinite modifiers to their statements, both oral and written.

NOTE: This is not an article about the writing styles of men vs. women. There are endless studies on this subject for those so inclined to learn more, and both genders do this to some extent. Instead, let’s focus on the narrative destroyers and practice eliminating them from our writing.

I’m sure all the writers out there know what qualifiers and indefinite modifiers are, but humor me as I do a quick review:

“I liked that book, didn’t you?” “Didn’t you” is the qualifier in the sentence.  This statement, in essence, says, “I have an opinion, but I need validation.” Ouch. Don’t write from this place. Be assertive. A clear, definitive statement drops the question, becoming, “I liked that book.”

 “Perhaps this is a good reason to write every day.” “Perhaps” is the culprit in this sentence, an indefinite modifier.  Is it a good reason or not?  Be decisive and confident in your writing and your sentence becomes, “This is a good reason to write every day.”

 Okay, lesson over.  Go ahead.  Take a look at some of your recent material.  What did you find? Curious, I pulled up some of the book reviews I’ve written lately.  Uh-oh.  Guilty.  Not only do I seem to love a good qualifier and indefinite modifier, but I absolutely adore using intensifiers and all the drama and flair they add to the text.

There are more than a handful of us that need to brush up on our skills in this area, don’t you think? But how?

  • Practice being assertive – Use definitive statements and trust yourself. You’ve heard the expression, “When you walk into a room, act like you own it.”  Do the same thing with your writing. You DO own it.  Stand behind it!
  • There is no need to eliminate these words completely. Instead, practice moderation.  An incredibly impressive intensifier is needed every now and then, but perhaps not in this sentence.

 

  • Remove qualifiers, intensifiers and indefinite modifiers AFTER you finish your writing session. There is a time and a place for everything, and the best way to block your creativity is to worry about writing perfect sentences in the first draft. There will be plenty of time to hone your masterpiece later.

And yes, I jest throughout this article, sometimes on purpose, sometimes, perhaps not. As with all aspects of writing though, the key is practice. It won’t happen overnight but just being aware helps in the implementation of change.  Happy writing!

 

What Are Other Authors Selling? Why Should I Know…

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Last week I spoke about the benefits of going to the library. As I mentioned I have committed to visit the library once a week, so I did! This time I focused on checking out what other authors have written about on my topic in the age group I write for. The experience was enlightening and inspiring, to say the least, even though this was not the first time I had done research on what other authors were doing. What made this experience different was my focus. My goal was not to find a niche in my genre to target but to learn from what worked for other authors by looking at their writing styles, vocabulary, illustrations, format, and any other detail that called my attention. Below are some things to consider when looking at books that are published and successful, to learn from them and to create an applicable guide to follow with your own project:

·         Publishing Information. The first thing I did was to collect information from the books I liked that were within my marketing target and made a list of the titles and the aspects I liked about them. I also compiled information about the publisher, illustrator, etc. in case I decide to consider pitching my book instead of self-publishing.

·          I looked at the main characters. Were they boys, girls, animals? What was unique about them? How did they relate to the target reader? Was it the character that made the book successful or was it the story? How different or similar were they from my main character?

·         I looked also at the story, message, and other characters, and compared them to my own project to determine how different it is to what’s out there, and whether or not I can apply anything I learned to my own project to make it more current, relatable to the reader, captivating and marketable.

·         Pay attention to any new idea that might pop up into your mind while checking out other books within your genre and write them down. You never know, maybe one of these ideas will be your new best-seller!

In the end, we authors have a passion for writing, feel that we have something to say, are committed to sharing a message, love books and want to be able to make a living writing and reading them. So, what better way to be successful than learning from each other? For more information on how we help authors visit www.bookbybookpublicity.com.

Feeding your Writing and Library Field Trips

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Recently, I decided to visit our new Central Library downtown in Austin. It had been a while since I had been to one since I spend most of my time in my home office or should I say ‘Cave.’  But after spending half a day in the library something clicked within, in such a way that I can no longer live as a recluse. Since then I have committed to work from a library at least once a week. Here are some benefits of breaking away from the home office desk and venturing into a library to write.

·         Creative Juices Recharge – The only way to describe what happened to my brain when I explored the shelves is to imagine sleeping beauty waking up from years of sleeping! I could not write fast enough all of the new ideas and directions I could apply to my own projects whether directly to my manuscripts or their marketing! By being reclusive I was missing out on the benefit of other brains to the point of having my brain on a constant loop revisiting the same old ideas.

·         Energy Recharge – By being always within the walls of my writing cave I was also missing out on others’ energy. Just by sitting among other minds at work I felt motivated to work on my projects, was energized as my passion levels for my story boomed and for the first time in a long time, I lost track of time!

·         Routine Enrichment – Having a weekly field trip to the library scheduled has given me something to look forward to in my routine. It has been surprising to me how much it has increased my motivation and productivity as I strive to get things done to make sure I can work on research, writing or any other task for my own projects; or simply explore the shelves for new reads.

Contrary to the myth of being glamorous, the life of a writer is an isolating and lonely one…especially now as we do more promotional work and platform building on the internet. So as authors we sometime fall into the reclusion trap and find ourselves in a looping plateau. By working in the library some of the time, we can connect to the literary world and feed from it. What are you waiting for? Feed your writing!

Awards Programs and Other Contests - Benefits of Early Submission

 Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Granted, sometimes books come out right before the submission deadlines for some awards programs chosen by authors, so early submissions are no longer an option. Yet with advanced planning, a book launching can always be synchronized to contests deadlines, literary magazine guidelines, and important marketing calendar dates. If it is too late for the current book in production, creating a synchronized publishing calendar, program, and plan for the next title in the works will definitely give the best chance possible for the title to make good sales, especially if it can get to the hands of awards judges early.  Following are a few benefits of submitting early:

·         An early submission gets to judges with a blank slate on what the standard curve of the contest will be.  Remember, books are graded by judges as they are read, so it makes sense to try to get a book to them before they have read a hundred submissions in the same category, in my opinion, in hopes of being judged before other strong competitors raise the bar.

·         If the contest offers a book review with it, sometimes the review gets posted on their page shortly after it is produced. This not only gives the author a view of what the judge might think about it, it also gives the author a tool to use to get followers, buyers and to create anticipation with their fans. From the marketing point of view, all of this interaction brings new visitors to the author page, improving opportunity for sales.

·         By sending submissions early, the author can focus on all other aspects of the title’s launch, events and other publicity efforts.

·         Many awards programs offer early entry discounts, which always helps the budget.

All that said, clarification is needed on entering a contest early. By no means should ARC’s be sent to a contest, even if sending early.  The books sent should be the final product, as they are subject to judging with the intent to score a placement. Although advanced copies are great to send to reviewers, they are not the best idea when sending to a literary awards program. For more information on how we help authors visit www.readerviews.com. To enter the Reader Views Literary Awards Click Here.