Seemed like this illustration painted by Tracy Campbell was perfect for the blizzard that is bearing down on the North East. Let’s hope it provides as much fun for us as it does for these playful bunnies. Tracy was featured on Illustrator Saturday in May 2013. https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/illustrator-saturday-tracy-campbell/
1. Start a website or Blog. I am not saying this because I develop websites or have a degree in marketing, but every year it is getting more important to get your name out there. Waiting until you sign a book contract before building an audience puts you behind the eight ball and behind everyone else who is coming out with a book who has one. I know all of us want to just write, but with publishers doing less and less marketing for beginning writers, it is something you need to seriously consider.
Remember: Your next contract depends on the success of your latest book.
NOTE: I know many of you who just read the word BLOG had their hair stand up on end, but a blog does not have to be like this one. It is free to start a blog. So if you don’t want to spend the money for a nice website, then to WordPress and sign up with your name for your own blog. Put up your picture, some information about yourself, and add your bio. You can even let visitors know you will not be posting, but make sure you supply your contact information.
2. The Internet & Social Media: Always look around the Internet for blogs that would feature you with an interview. Make it as easy as possible for the blogger (or media person) to say, “Yes.” When you write them, you should include the following:
a. A short introduction as to who you are and why you’re writing.
b. If it’s a book, give the title, the genre, and the name of the publisher.
c. State why you think the blog audience would be interested in reading about you.
d. Write up six to 12 interview questions with the answers and include it in your email. I know this might feel uncomfortable, but if you are providing everything for a good post this will save the blogger time and your information will be moved to the top. You should say that you wrote up some interview questions to give them an idea about you, but they do not have to use them. You are open to answering all their questions if they want to write up their own.
e. Include a bio and a picture of yourself and a book.
3. Start Your Own Buzz. Do book giveaways – Blog tours – Guest posts (articles) – etc. Report successes to other writers and illustrators, and people who do Kudo blog posts.
4. Follow Submission Guidelines:
You might be able to get away with not following the submission guidelines when submitting to a publisher if you are a very successful author, but for the rest of us we need to always follow the guidelines.
I have seen first hand with the first page critiques how many people do not submit their first page following the submission guidelines. So many of you were picked and then passed over because of this. Now maybe this doesn’t happen with editors or agents, but that is not what they tell me.
If the guidelines say submit 15 pages, do not send in 16 pages. I know many writers justify sending more pages because they want the editor or agent to read the great ending they have on page 16, but you will do yourself a great service by editing the first 15 pages and cutting out words and sentences you can do without to get the great ending on page fifteen. It will make your manuscript stronger and it will thwart giving the editor or agent a reason to skip over your manuscript. With hundreds of submission coming in, it would only be natural to look for an easy way to thin out the reading pile.
5. Grammar Errors, etc.: In the same realm, make sure your manuscript is grammar error free and formatted correctly.
6. Tracking Results: Keep track of what is working and what isn’t. Example: If you send out ten query letters and no one emails to ask for you to send in a sample, then maybe your query letter is not packing enough punch. So try rewriting it to see if that changes the outcome.
7. The Market: The market is always changing. You need to keep up-to-date on what the industry wants. Example: Ten years ago, editors were not interested in author/illustrators and now they are very interested in that combination. Editors move around. Always check to make sure they still are the right editor for you before contacting them.
8. Network: Go to conferences, workshops, sign up for professional critiques, leave comments on blogs, share information, join a in-person or online critique group. Collect business cards and create a database (note where you met them). Talk to everyone. Not just about what you do, but also take an interest in what others are doing.
9. Look for Places to Submit: Consider small press publishers. Anthologies can provide a good stepping stone. Magazines need articles. Look for no-fee contests who are looking for things you have already written or could write for their deadline. This gets you writing, gets your name out there, gives you practice on submitting, and a chance to become a winner, and then bragging rights. Sometimes it is the little things that keep us on the right road.
10. Self-Published Books: If you are thinking about self-publishing your book, make sure you do your homework. Resist the urge to rush it out. That is when mistakes are made. Don’t put out anything that hasn’t been edited, doesn’t have a nice cover, and doesn’t reflect a professional book. Make sure you deal with a reputable printer that will put together a high quality book. I wouldn’t get involved with someone who wanted to dictate the price of the book. I have seen too many over priced books with horrible covers when authors have given up control of the end product.
11. Always be nice to people. Help others when you can.
12. Impressions are Important: Remember everything you put out – query letter, manuscript, website, blog, book, etc. tell a story about you. If you want people to think you are serious, you must keep quality in the front of your mind.
If you are too busy to work on numbers 1 – 7 above, then you should seriously consider paying someone to help you make it happen and get you on the right path.
ILLUSTRATORS: Here is the link to Part 1, which was reared for illustrators. https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/what-to-do-in-2015/
Good luck with the snow.