A Letter to a Literary Agent

Dear literary agent I had high hopes of,

I must own myself surprised by the contents of your letter. I think there may have been some misunderstanding. 

You mentioned that my punctuation needs work, I must respectfully disagree, with that. As for my speling, I think if you take another look you’ll find there’s nothing rong with it. And I can’t believe my sentence structure you say is all backward! 

You also said the plot is too confusing. Let me summarize it simply for you: 

The story is a family saga spanning eleven generations, from regency England, which is all about making suitable marriage alliances, to the future, where the human race migrates into space due to the destruction of the earth by nuclear weapons and they must fight aliens and find a new planet suitable for supporting life. It’s made even more exciting by the fact that my tenth generation protagonist can time travel, and morph into other characters at will. The whole thing is a mere 600,000 words. And, as you can see, it’s perfectly easy to grasp. 

In conclusion, I think what you actually meant to write was that you want to sign me immediately and have full confidence that you can sell my book for an enormous sum. I do demand at least a seven figure advance. 

Yours sincerely, 

A disgruntled author. 

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Marketing after Publication by Nadia L King


​”This is the one time you can’t afford to be shy. You need to get the word out about your book. I hope this post helps you to overcome any fear…”

2016 will always stand out for me as the year my debut book, Jenna’s Truth, was published.

​I was signed up by a small, independent publishing house in my hometown. You may not know it yet, but even multinational, traditional publishing houses don’t tend to throw bags of money away on book marketing for first-time authors. If you’re planning on having a book published (either self-published, traditionally or with a small, independent press) you will have to take on a share of the marketing and promotion of your book.

What does this mean?

​It means you have to hustle. You need to keep your eyes open for opportunities and be ready to pounce on them when they present themselves.

​2016 may have been the year my first book was published, but it was also a year in which I was well and truly out of my comfort zone. You need to promote yourself, no one else, however supportive, will do this for you the way you need to do it for yourself.

​Okay, so where do you start? Tons of people will tell you to establish an author website and buy the domain name. I haven’t done this, not yet anyway. I do however, have a WordPress site and it is strongly linked to my name – nadialking.wordpress.com. I blog regularly on my WordPress site; usually, my posts take the form of book reviews, interviews with writers or opinion pieces. I also accept guest posts which are a great way to cross-promote and build relationships with other writers. Blogging regularly means my Google analytics become stronger. If you Google Nadia L King, the first few pages will come up with my links.

​Blogging also gives you the opportunity to do something for someone else. By reviewing books or interviewing other writers, you are playing an active role in making your writing community stronger. It’s also a way of getting the word out about you as a writer.

​Build an email list. Email lists have been documented by many marketing gurus as the single most effective marketing tool for writers or anyone selling products. I hate to remind you – we’re in the business of selling books. Yes, I would much rather write books than sell them, but selling books is what builds an audience, and writing for me, is very much tied up with writing for an audience, otherwise, I may as well take up journaling and not share my work.

​I use mailchimp to manage my email list and send out newsletters when I have ‘big’ news to share; e.g. my book launch, the release of new short stories, sharing media interviews etc. I’ve noticed other writers providing give-aways with their newsletters but so far I haven’t done this.

​Establish author pages on Goodreads, Amazon, The Reading Room etc. This is a way to connect directly with your readers. Goodreads, in particular, provides opportunities for direct engagement with your followers.

​I reluctantly hopped on the social media train and I encourage you to do the same. Social media is an immensely powerful tool and I don’t think I would be a published author without it.

• Facebook: I generally use FB to keep my friends up to date with my writer life. More valuable than this, however, are writer FB groups. Most are closed, some are large, some are small, but all provide me with an opportunity to check in with other writers and seek their advice and also share experiences with my peers.

• Instagram: IG is my safe place. When I got a couple of bad reviews just before the release of Jenna’s Truth (sidenote: ignore bad reviews, trust me on this), IG is where I turned. My IG writer buddies helped me ride the wave of bad reviews which is eerily similar to the wave of rejection. I got through a difficult few days with the help of my IG friends. IG is a great platform to connect with readers, writers, and generally fabulous humans.

• LinkedIn: A professional social media platform to connect with other professionals. I haven’t found the writer groups overly helpful, although take heed, LinkedIn is where I met my current publisher.

• Twitter: I only recently joined the land of Tweet and I do find the 140 character limit a wee bit tricky. I use bit.ly to convert long URLs into smaller web links and buffer to automate my tweets. Cross-promotion seems to be the name of the game for Twitter. I haven’t gotten into #twobittues or #1linewed etc but such hashtags are other ways to engage. Twitter is a great way to connect especially with people you wouldn’t usually have access to. I have certainly put Twitter to good use in fangirling some of my favourite authors. Again, if you use your blog to offer interviews with such heroes, you have the perfect opportunity to post great content on your blog and to build relationships with established authors.

Virtual book blog tours are a great way to generate interest in your book during release. Identify bloggers who write reviews in your genre and then set up a calendar of virtual appearances for the book and yourself as an author. Generally, you will need to provide bloggers with an ARC copy of your book, excerpts, author picture, and a short bio. Three months coverage is an effective time period to aim for. To be honest, I haven’t used the virtual book blog tour for my book although I will certainly put it to use for the release of my second book.

Don’t forget about old-fashioned, local promotion. Identify ‘The Book Reviewer’ in your city. Hint: they will write the book review column in your main newspaper. Be sure to give them a free copy of your book. If you’re lucky, they’ll read it, love it, and write you a glowing review. Send out press releases to all the papers and radio stations in your city. Contact your local library while you’re at it.

Join professional associations. I joined the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI). My membership to the local chapter of SCWBI has been most fruitful. SCWBI-ites are particularly supportive of each other and it’s been lovely to connect with professional writers in my hometown. SCWBI recently organised a pitch event for librarians. This was a fabulous opportunity to let librarians know about Jenna’s Truth and also what I cover in my author talks. Please charge for author talks. Our time, like other professionals, is valuable. Do not sell yourself short. In Australia, most authors charge out at ASA rates (check the website for details).

You will need some high-res, professional quality author shots. These will stand you in good stead. You are your brand and professional photographs send the message that you’re a professional author.

That’s my take on book marketing. This is the one time you can’t afford to be shy. You need to get the word out about your book. I hope this post helps you to overcome any fear and start working on your author platform.

Go on, get out there! Your book deserves your best marketing efforts. Oh yeah, and while I’m here, check out my book Jenna’s Truth (https://www.aulexic.com.au/product/jennas-truth/)!

Australian author, Nadia L King, was born in Dublin, Ireland. She has a background in journalism and media relations and has written for magazines in Europe, Australia, and the US. She reads voraciously and enthusiastically and inhales books the same way her Labrador inhales dog biscuits. Nadia is an overexcited person who adores words, loves writing short stories and keeps a blog at nadialking.wordpress.com. Her writing has been described as “raw, real and heart-wrenching.” Her first book, Jenna’s Truth, is published by Aulexic and is a powerful tool to arm teens against bullying. Nadia lives near the Swan River in Western Australia.

I hope you enjoyed Nadia’s guest post! I know I learnt a lot. Get involved on her social media:
Nadia’s blog: https://nadialking.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nlkingauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNadiaLKing/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nadialking/

 

Using Cliffhangers and Foreshadowing 


I wrote the above comment as a response to an Instagram post I saw some time ago, asking how a writer knows where to start the next chapter. I was surprised by how much of a reaction it got. It seemed a lot of people hadn’t considered this fairly simple technique. So how is it done? 

Firstly, by cliffhanger, I don’t mean that your protagonist has to be on the verge of untimely death every time you end a chapter. A cliffhanger can be as simple as leaving an unresolved question. For example: 

“You wouldn’t really leave me, would you?”

 End of chapter. 

His last words echoed in Alice’s mind as she drove away. ‘Would you?’ Well, they both knew the answer to that now. 

See how much better that is than ending the chapter with Alice driving away! 

Another useful method to achieve the same effect is foreshadowing. This is when we give a little glimpse of what’s going to happen in order to heighten the tension. So: 

“Don’t worry,” I said. “We’ll just go in, grab it, and run out. It will be perfectly simple.”

But of course, it was nothing of the sort. 

End of chapter

Not only are these useful writing tools, they create a book that flows from chapter to chapter, keeping the reader gripped. 
What do you think of these methods? Do you use them? 

Lessons on Marketing

I recently wrote a rather ranting post about writers who spam me on Twitter with invitations to try their free ebook. Well, this week I had a similar thing on Instagram. One DM was from a writer with an invitation to read their book. One was from a book promotion service. But my reaction to each of them was totally different. One worked, one didn’t. So I thought it might be helpful to analyse the two messages and find out why. Because, let’s face it, however much effort we put in to making genuine connections on social media, at some point we will have to mention the thing we are marketing. We will have to say the equivalent of- ‘hey, you know I have a book out,’ or ‘I’m an amazing editor if you’re looking for one,’ or ‘you should check out my social media management services.’ But the way we say it makes all the difference!
 
So, just to emphasise, this post is not intending to ‘name and shame’ anyone, but just to provide some helpful feedback for all of us! 

Let’s examine the bad example first: 

“Hello , I see you are a book lover. Please check out my novel. it received 5STARS from professional editorial reviewers. Reviews are on Amazon.com. A story of heartbreaking and hilarious escapades of Zara. Please help me spread the word of my Novel amongst your friends. I can do with support from book lovers like your self. let me know what you think ?”
(Identifying details have been removed.) 

My reaction to this message was simply to unfollow. Why? 

Firstly, it’s very impersonal. It’s perfectly easy to find out my name from my Instagram page. This person didn’t bother. Even though they must have seen it in order to send me the message! 

Secondly, notice any grammatical and punctuation errors? I did. That may not mean there’s any in the book, but it tells me there could be. 

Lastly, this person is asking me to do on awful lot for them, without offering me anything in return. I have a book coming out too, do I not deserve any support? They hadn’t even interacted with my posts on Instagram before this. It’s true that the writing community is a very supportive one, but most of us view our writing as business. And a business has to be founded on a principle of give and take. 

Now the good example:

“Hi Abi, we wanted to wish you good luck with your upcoming book! Write on! 💪”

This message is personal. The person has taken some time to inform themselves of who I am and what my circumstances are. It’s brief but positive. It doesn’t ask me to do anything. 

After a moments thought, I replied to this with a simple ‘thank you.’ Having opened up the communication, I expected the sell to come in the next message. But I didn’t mind, because I’d been given a choice whether to respond or not. 

As it happened, there was no other message. No sell at all. The result is that I now have an excellent opinion of this company and feel it’s one I could work with. It went to the top of my list of book promotion services to look into. 

So maybe the lesson is that it’s enough to just make people aware of who you are and what you do. Then give them the choice whether to follow it up or not. 

And, above all, be personal.

This article has now been featured on Invest Grow Repeat! Read it here: 

http://www.investgrowrepeat.com/gp-lessons-on-marketing-from-the-customers-perspective.html