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Monday, July 24, 2006

10 Things Savvy Writers Can Do to Maximize Profits (Part 2 of 2)

Copyright 2006 Tonya M. Evans-Walls, Esquire. All rights reserved.

Individuals may copy this post for noncommercial use without permission; provided that this post is used in its entirety and carries this copyright notice and the following link back to this blog: litlawblog.blogspot.com. All other uses will be considered unauthorized and infringing and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

By posting a comment to this blog, you grant to Tonya M. Evans-Walls and Legal Write Publications an irrevocable non-exclusive license to display, reproduce and distribute such post throughout the universe. All bloggers should contact the individual blogger to republish his or her post before copying any comments at this blog.

Greetings!

I am posting today from the amazing central coast of California, home of some amazing wines, including Pinot Noirs (think Sideways). I plan to do extensive research and will let you know of my findings (after a long nap). In fact, I have a separate Web site devoted to wine appreciation set to be launched next week: www.JoyofTheTable.com. Stop by and take a sneek peak!

This part is the second in a two-part post titled 10 Things Savvy Writers Can do to Maximize Profits. I encourage you to incorporate any or all of these into your plans to master your craft, add value to the lives of your customers, and increase your profits too! Maybe we can have it all.

6. Invest in your project. If you intend to catapult your writing career to the next level, then forget about pinching pennies. Now, you should always look for the best price so I encourage you to get several price quotes for all services related to the production and promotion of your book. But don't try to save money, for instance, by having your cousin who received an A in high school english proof your manuscript. Or worse yet, do it yourself! In 99% percent of the cases, you get what you pay for (or don't).

7. Add value to your book. Be sure to create a compelling reason for people to buy your book because your title is competing for consumer attention and shelf space with the more than 195,000 books that are published each year. What makes yours special? Why should people read your book rather than watch TV, surf the Net, listen to music or partake of the infinite number of entertainment outlets available today? Make sure you know the answer to that question before your book hits the shelves.

8. Begin with the end in mind. Assess the overall reason for you to publish your work and the ultimate goal. Is it for historical legacy purposes requiring only a small number of books (less than 500); to have a calling card for your business (helping you to "expertise" yourself in your chosen profession); for fame or money (if so, find something else to do!)? Understanding your motives and expecations on the front end will help you to formulate a viable plan of action to increase your likelihood of success down the road.

9. Know your competition. You should know about the other books likely to compete with your book and be able to point to areas of differentiation between yours and the competition. You should also know the pricing for similar books in your genre and/or format; (i.e. Don't price your 120-page paperback at $29.95 if every other book like yours is $12.95.)

10. It's about who you know-- Networking is key. Take a "Survivor" or "Big Brother" approach to networking - study the successful and form key alliances to ensure your success. Identify people in the industry doing what you want to do, study their paths to success, apply what might work in your situation, and ditch the rest. And when you meet someone special or when someone takes the time to help you, always follow up with a handwritten thank you note. Now I know this is a radical idea in this day and age of electronic overload and junk mail piled to the ceiling. But imagine how refreshing it would be to receive mail from someone (a real person whom you've met) who does not want anything in return and who actually took the time to write a note. Priceless. Memorable. Something to set you apart from the masses.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Can I refer to real people and events in my fictional story set in the 30s - 50s? (Historical Fiction)

Historical fiction is a popular writing genre that generally incorporates fictional and historical characters in a specific, well-researched historical period and setting. The heart of good historical fiction rests in the soundness of the research and authenticity of the historical references. But historical fiction should include a well-written disclaimer stating that the work is one of fiction so readers will know that the plot was developed or history altered with the purposeful literary freedom of historical fiction—poetic license—and is not the result of inadvertent inattention or worse.

Well, I hope these suggestions are helpful. If you have other suggestions or want to submit a question, please post a comment or send an email to . Now, I really must go. I think I hear the clinking of Riedel wine glasses and, after all, it is happy hour somewhere in the world.

Cheers,

Tonya Evans-Walls

Sunday, July 23, 2006

10 Things Savvy Writers Can Do to Maximize Profits (Part 1 of 2)

Copyright 2006 Tonya M. Evans-Walls, Esquire. All rights reserved.
Individuals may copy this post for noncommercial use without permission; provided that this post is used in its entirety and carries this copyright notice and the following link back to this blog: litlawblog.blogspot.com. All other uses will be considered unauthorized and infringing and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.


By posting a comment to this blog, you grant to Tonya M. Evans-Walls and Legal Write Publications an irrevocable non-exclusive license to display, reproduce and distribute such post throughout the universe. All bloggers should contact the individual blogger to republish his or her post before copying any comments at this blog.


Greetings!

I returned recently from the Harlem Book Fair on Strivers Row in Harlem New York, where I participated on a panel titled Entrepreneurship and Finance: Money, Power and Respect. The focus of the panel was to discuss ways that writers can maximize their book sales (and profits, they are NOT the same) through diligent, focused preparation and promotion.

Publishing powerhouses Linda Gill (GM of Kimani Press, a division of Harlequin Books) and Glenda Howard (Senior Editor, Sepia Books) served as co-moderators of the panel. And I was joined by my colleagues Lynnette Khalfani (Getting to Your First Million: Your Action Plan for a Lifetime of Financial Fitness and best-seller NO DEBT), and Jennifer Lewis-Hall (Life Changes: Using The Power of Change to Transform Your Life and a series of greeting cards carried by American Greetings), two dynamic women who are very accomplished in the publishing industry. Later we were joined by another author whose name escapes me at the moment. I'll provide that information in my next post.

We presented a list of the top 10 things savvy authors can do to maximize sales and I have tweaked the list a bit and provided 5 of those things below. I will post the remaining 5 in my next post.



  1. Get the word out well in advance of your book's release. Start promoting your title at least 6-8 months before the release date. Why? Because many reviewers have a long lead time and need your information well in advance of release so that the review of your work pre-dates your release. For instance, I generally have cover art and press releases 9-12 months before I have a completed manuscript and start advertising at that time.
  2. Be your book's biggest cheerleader. Don't expect your family, friends or publisher to adequately promote your title. Of course, your family and friends will support you but promoting your work is your responsibility. And despite popular opinion, publishers generally do not devote large amounts of money or time to promote your book. Publishers invest in the book's production and distribution, and will notify the trade, but -- again -- promotions are your responsibility. And if you don't do it, then it won't get done -- not effectively, anyway, in most cases. In fact when books are not selling, booksellers, wholesalers and the like return them (usually after about 3 months on the shelves!) Give your book some shelf life and a fighting chance. Promote early, often and shamelessly.
  3. Research your target market carefully. This may be a surprise to you but not everyone in the world will want your book. So you need to do some research to figure out your target market. Are they adults, young adult, teen, children? Women and/or men? A specific socioeconomic status or educational achievement? A particular segment of the population like writers, or students, African-Americans, or the self-employed? You get the picture. Know to whom you intend to sell and then identify where they go, what they read, and their likes and dislikes in order to target your message through the appropriate channels (kind of like a stalker, but with much more honorable intentions!). It does no good to devote a lot of time and money to create and maintain a blog, for instance, if your target market doesn't regularly use computers. And it doesn't make sense to advertise in a magazine that does not reach your target market, even if it is a popular magazine with a wide circulation.
  4. Think outside the box and use non-traditional marketing methods. Do not underestimate the power of non-traditional sales. If you own your rights, consider selling directly to book clubs, gift shops, doctor's offices, local grocery stores, restaurants, schools, organizations, businesses etc. Even if you cannot sell directly to these entities because a publisher controls your distribution, you can certainly market to them. Again, know where your target market goes and try selling to these markets, which exist outside the normal trade channels in the publishing industry. And if you control your rights, you'll keep more of the profits and avoid costly returns by selling on a non-returnable basis.
  5. Use every opportunity to promote and sell your book (never leave home without them!) Be on the look out for captive audiences (hair salons, airports, waiting lines etc.), and seize unexpected opportunities to chat up your book. And while giving your 30 second pitch, be sure to have the book close at hand (always have a case in your trunk!!) in case that captive audience turns into a potential sale. Develop a thick skin and get comfortable with a certain degree of rejection because, as I noted above, not everyone is going to love your book. Also, be PLEASANTLY persistent but NOT a pain in the you know where. Word of mouth works both ways and someone who has a bad experience with you is ten times more likely to tell others than someone who has a positive experience.

Next week, I'll post part two of this post to discuss the final 5 things on the ever-evolving list savvy writers do to maximize their profits. Until then, tell a friend about this blog and my podcast, Lit Law for Writers on the GO!, available from iTunes and also at LiteraryLawGuide.com. You can listen directly from your computer or subscribe and instantly receive the latest cast sent directly to your MP3 player. And please visit Podcast Alley and vote for my podcast if you enjoy it!

Continue to write and SHINE!