Here’s What’s New
Lerner Publishing Group has announced the launch of their new line of distinctive fiction for young adults. They’ll call this division Carolrhoda Books. If you are writing fiction for the young adult market, you might want to check their guidelines and/or their catalog. http://www.carolrhodalab.com.
Current is a new publisher of science books for a general audience. This is an imprint of Penguin. I’ll report more as it comes available.
A Book Inside Forum has closed their site and opened the new Author and Book Event Center at http://bookeventcenter.spruz.com. Find your favorite author, share your book information, or learn to write one. And it’s free. It looks as though you can post your videos, photos, events and thoughts.
There’s a bookstore in Boulder, Colorado that will carry your print-on-demand or pay-to-publish book for a fee. As I understand it, they charge $25 just to stock 5 copies of your book (they’ll replenish as needed), $75 to place the book in their “Recommended Books” section and $125 to mention the book in their newsletter. There’s also a $225 package that includes a book signing or reading for the author. Learn more about this concept in Megan Garber’s article, “The Bounder Way: A Bookstore’s Experiment with Microdistribution,” at http://tinyurl.com/yl4qyf7.
Editors Comment: How in the heck is someone who paid to have his/her book produced through a pay-to-publish company going to be able to afford another cut in the profits? On the other hand, I sometimes lose money in order to get the exposure. As an author, you must decide where you will get what you need in order to succeed with your project.
Workbench Magazine is now My Home My Style.
WritingForums.com has re-launched. You’ll find it at http://www.writingforums.com. They’re promoting this site as one where you can share your work, discuss writing with others, exchange tips and leads and even promote yourself and your work.
Opportunities for Freelance Writers
FreelanceWritingGigs.com is an interesting job site for freelance writers. You will also find jobs for bloggers, networking opportunities, job hunting tips and more.
At the Freelance Writing site you will find 17 directories of jobs for writers—yes, SEVENTEEN job directories. They include Craig’s List, O Desk, Scriptlance and many others. http://www.freelancewriting.com/freelance-writing-jobs.php.
Have you heard of ArticleMe.com? This site provides the opportunity to sell your articles to researchers, authors and others who are seeking the material you offer. You can also purchase informative articles here. Check it out at: http://www.articleme.com
The Infinite Investor is new and they are a paying market. Editor, Tina Johnson is looking for lifestyle topics derived from Seven Pillars of Personal Improvement—faith, health, leadership, relationships, success, teamwork and wealth. You’ll find writer’s guidelines here: http://www.infiniteinvestor.com/writersguidelines. Basically they pay 10 cents word for up to 500 words. Contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Turner has announced that Smash Cake Magazine, Nashville’s newest literary journal, is accepting submissions for the Fall 2010 maiden issue. This publication features poetry, fiction, essays, photos and art and will be published each fall and spring. They even pay a small token payment upon publication for each piece accepted. Contact editor, Tracy Lucas through the website at http://www.smashcakemagazine.com.
Have you noticed the volume of fitness magazines, regional publications and/or women’s magazines over the years? Well guess what, these are not the most plentiful of magazines. The Standard Periodical Directory shows that the most popular topic in America—at least as far as periodicals go—is medicine. There are over 3,000 titles in this category. Also in the running for topics with the most titles are law, ethnic, computers, religion, education, business, health, investment and travel.
Opportunities for Authors
Have you heard about the Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories New Author Contest? General Mills, maker of Cheerios, is seeking new unpublished authors with a flair for writing children’s stories. The author of the story they like best will receive a publishing contract with Simon and Schuster and their books will be included in boxes of cereal. Deadline is July 15. Learn more here http://www.spoonfulofstories.contest.com.
Are you one of the many who are writing your memoirs? Maybe you’re not sure if what you plan or are working on is a memoir. If the story reflects a portion of your life, an incident in your life or covers your entire life, it could be considered a memoir. There are autobiographies, military memoirs, spiritual memoirs, travel memoirs, pet memoirs, health and healing memoirs, life struggle memoirs and even memoirs depicting a brief situation or circumstance occurring in your life. Some authors incorporate a self-help or teaching aspect in their memoirs.
Who publishes memoirs by unknown authors? Here’s a partial list:
Bold Stroke Books publishes both fiction and nonfiction (including memoirs) mostly related to gay and lesbian stories. http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com.
Skinner House Books is tied into the Unitarian Universalist Association and they produce nonfiction books on a variety of topics, including memoirs. http://www.uua.org/skinner
If your true life story has a religious slant, you may want to contact the Canadian publisher, Novalis at http://www.novalis.com.
Dana Press publishes books that lean heavily into the sciences. They will look at an appropriate memoir about a health issue or true medical mystery, for example. http://www.dana.org/books/press
Gival Press publishes literary works and memoirs of literary quality are included in their list. http://www.givalpress.com.
The publisher at Hollis Publishing Co is interested in works featuring or focusing on current events in government, politics, education and technology. If you can weave some of these aspects into your memoir, they might be interested in taking a look at it. Remember, a good number of their readers are college students, professors and other thinking individuals. http://www.hollispublishing.com.
Book Promotion Opportunities
Delta Crossroads is a new regional magazine that publishes book reviews. If your book touches on issues of the outdoors, home décor and other subjects of interest to readers in northeast Arkansas, contact, Ron Kemp at 870-483-6317 or use the contact form at the website: http://www.democratictribune.com
Back Issues of Market Update
If you want to solicit book reviews for your amazing book, be sure to study the April and March 2010 editions of the SPAWN Market Update wherein we listed directories of magazines that run book reviews and specific magazines seeking books to review. The March edition features 25 of the best book festivals for authors with books to sell.
I can’t stress enough the value in perusing the SPAWN Market Update archives for resources and ideas related to book promotion, publishing, freelance work and so much more. If you’re not reading every issue and reviewing the archives, you are probably missing out on opportunities to get more work and make more sales.
Opportunities for Artists and Photographers
Check out this link for graphic design work. http://www.freelancewriting.com/freelancejobs/graphic-design-freelance-jobs.php
You’ll find photography jobs here: http://www.freelancewriting.com/freelancejobs/freelance-photography-jobs.php. Today there are jobs listed in Seattle, Houston, Orlando, Chicago, New York, Fort Worth, Philadelphia, St. Louis and others. The types of jobs listed today include homecoming photos for military families in Norfolk, VA; videographer work with a fitness expert; photo shoot for music album cover; photos of a road race; a skin care company has a permanent position for a photographer and videographer.
Motorhome Magazine is soliciting photographs for their “Postcards from the Road” page and they’ll pay $50 for selected photos. They particularly want beautiful scenes in which there is a motorhome. Contact Eileen Hubbard at email@example.com. They will pay up to $900 for major photo spreads. Check guidelines for photographers at the website: http://www.motorhomemagazine.com. Click on “Contact us” and then “Writers/Photographers Guidelines.”
Opportunities for Script Writers
June 15, 2010 is the deadline for the 2010 Script Showcase Screenwriting Competition. Learn more here: http://www.script-showcase.com
Going, Going, Gone
Better Homes and Gardens Decorating has quit publishing.
The District Weekly (Long Beach, CA) has gone out of business.
Edutopia is going online only.
InSpirit Magazine will publish its last issue in July.
World Watch Magazine will quit publishing after the July/August issue.
Purchasing Magazine has ceased publication after nearly 100 years.
American Nursing Student is out of business.
Nashville Home and Garden has ceased publication.
Peter Smith Publishers has gone out of business.
HarperStudio (imprint of HarperCollins) will expire this summer after only 2 years.
Blue Marble Indigo Custom Publishing out of Macon, Georgia, has gone out of business after 10 years.
Interview with Penny Leisch
Penny Leisch is a self-taught social media expert. Like many writers, she can get lost in writing. However, today, marketing is as important as writing. As the former co-owner and marketing director of a custom software company, Penny quickly grasped that the technology was as important as the social media itself, and the way to understand it and make it work well would require more than just setting up accounts. The target market, the rank of the social media sites, the interaction between the sites, and the impact of social media on various industries became daily reading as Penny built her sites and developed strategies. Now, she’d like to share the expertise that resulted.
Q: I enjoyed reading your article on how social media helps writers in “Writing World Newsletter” in March. I’d like to ask you a few questions on behalf of SPAWN members, who are mostly authors and publishers. First, would you tell us about yourself—what is your writing/publishing background? And what is your current role among the writing/publishing community?
A: I began to write professionally almost fourteen years ago, when I wrote a family activity column and neighborhood news articles for a newspaper in Tempe, Arizona. The newspaper column became a monthly column for Camping and RV Magazine, too. My magazine work also included feature travel stories and photos.
That experience became the foundation for freelance writing. Later, I discovered I enjoy writing creative nonfiction. The job of ghostwriter for a canine television star wins first place as my favorite assignment. Really! I developed her personality profile and website presence for the television station. I also wrote her Ask Molly column in a local magazine. In addition, I taught “Writing & Photography for Publication” for the City of Tempe, Arizona, as well as other writing workshops for various vendors.
During the past three years, I began to spend more time on personal writing projects, ghostwriting, mentoring other writers, and consulting with writers and small businesses that need assistance in areas related to writing and communication. This includes website content and social media.
Book reviews are a recent opportunity that I enjoy. I’m an Associate Reviewer for Story Circle Book Reviews. In addition, I facilitate community/educational workshops and give talks about writing, social media, resumes and job search techniques, and improving business communication.
Q: Your article focuses on ways that writers can promote themselves and increase their visibility among editors, publishers, potential clients and so forth using social media such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter. What is the first step in using these sites to promote yourself?
A: The first step is to get organized. There are questions to answer and information to gather up front. Are you branding yourself, your company, a line of products, a service, or one product? Are you a beginner or an expert? Do you do all of your own marketing? Do you have physical limitations or manual dexterity limitations? Do you have established websites and customers? Do you have a tagline? Do you have a logo and professional photos of yourself, products, staff, and logo? Do you have good short bios or elevator speeches? You need this information to write a detailed plan. Finally, what do you want to accomplish—brand recognition, increased sales, build a niche audience, customer interaction, etc.? Many people don’t know the answer to the last question. Other times, the purpose changes as a plan evolves.
In some cases, the answer is that you need a separate plan to address each goal. If everything is crammed into one Twitter site, it will be too scattered to develop a specific audience with 140 character tweets, even if you tweet several times a day—and most individuals don’t want to do that.
For example, a person who writes a five-page brochure isn’t likely to find it beneficial to invest the time to maintain two or three social media sites to promote one brochure. On the other hand, an author who gets 30 or 40 people to show up at most book signings will definitely benefit from the investment.
Q: What are the basic functions/purposes of each site—can you give us a brief rundown of each of them and how, say, a freelance writer, an author and an editorial consultant might best utilize each of them?
A: That’s a tough question because it requires many assumptions. However, I can give generic guidelines. Most people benefit most from a combination of at least two social media sites.
A freelance writer can select from any of the top social media sites. This is where the preparation work comes in. Each site has different demographics. A person writing for trade publications will benefit by establishing expertise on LinkedIn and tweeting about industry news. Another person, who writes for people under the age of 25, will find the largest audience on MySpace. A writer who focuses on parenting information may have the most to gain from Facebook, where there is a large family-oriented audience.
An author approaches the process in much the same way as a freelance writer. He chooses his audience based on the demographics of his readers. For those of you who write for women, I should mention that they outnumber men by 5 to 15% on social media websites. If the author does book signings and appearances, he should use Twitter and tweet regularly to build his audience and awareness of his events. Mitali Perkins, who writes novels for young readers, successfully uses tweeting to build her out-of-town audiences for book signings. She often has over 30 people show up.
An editorial consultant faces a different challenge because she seeks a very specific market. There are writers, publishers, discussions, and more on LinkedIn. It’s the top rated business network. That said; writers and editors don’t often find customers among their peers. You must go to where your customers hang out. That means setting up a professional page on LinkedIn and Twitter and tweeting great writing tips or hot industry information. If you are an independent editor, you can also build a customer base around you as a person. For example, you might capitalize on building your personality online around an editorial specialty, such as anthologies, pets, or antique cars.
Anyone can expand their presence in social media indefinitely. Over one hundred active social media sites are in use in the U.S. Unless you can pay someone to maintain the sites, you’ll lose track. Not all sites require the same level of maintenance though. For example, I have a page on MySpace. It gets updated every couple of months. I use TweetDeck to scan Twitter members and news that I follow every day, and I use SocialOomph (formerly HooteSuite) to set up my tweets a month or more in advance. Then, I just drop in an extra tweet when I have exciting news to share. That’s a much easier way for beginners to start too.
Q: I’m on Twitter. SPAWN is on Facebook. I am an author with books to sell. I work with clients on their publishing projects as an editor/coach. And, of course, I’m the Executive Director of SPAWN. I’m in constant promotion mode in all three areas. Do you have any specific recommendations for me as far as using social media? (Which ones and how should I use them?)
A: Since LinkedIn is the top business site, I recommend that you set up a LinkedIn page for SPAWN. I also recommend a LinkedIn page for you. You can set up company profiles in LinkedIn too, as the owner/employee. Keep your consulting, the press/books, and SPAWN separate. Once you obtain recommendations for the LinkedIn sites, you are listed in their provider directory too. You may also want to spend some time answering professional questions. There is a place to find questions sorted by subject, and you don’t have to join groups to answer them. You gain a bit of additional free publicity if your name comes up as an expert too.
Definitely stay on Twitter. As you learn more about it, you’ll find more advantages. TweetDeck allows you to update Facebook, as well as Twitter. Several free software programs make it easy to manage social media and almost a one-stop deal. You have different functions and different purposes, even though the focus is on the same industry. To attract the appropriate audience in each area, develop your purpose carefully and think about what the target customers in each area want most. What will attract them and keep them interested in you? You could make good use of Twitter for SPAWN too.
Facebook is good for developing your following as an author. It’s a place to become a real person to the reader. Whether you elect to do it as a personal page or a business page (which allows fans, instead of friends) depends on many things. The business page is more limited in some ways. For example, you can’t moderate fans, but you can moderate friends. Look at each type of page and visit a number of them before you decide.
Talk about personal successes and whatever else may be appropriate for each site. For example, Susan Wittig Albert writes the China Bayles mystery series. The protagonist is the owner of an herb shop. Albert talks about her herb garden, herbal lore, and the weather and gardening conditions where she lives, along with writing. She is also the founder of Story Circle Network and Story Circle Book Reviews. She works in several areas, just as you do. Story Circle focuses on memoirs and writing about life, whether it’s focused on person or place. The book review site focuses on books by women, for women, and about women. There’s a tight focus in each area.
Q: There’s so much going on at these social media sites. How does one get heard/read? What is the secret to social media success?
A: As you answer the questions listed above (in my answer to question 2), constantly think about narrowing the focus. It can be difficult to decide the purpose of your site. However, a purpose is critical. You must maintain the focus and feed each site with new content—sometimes daily—for an indefinite period. It’s not enough to have seven tips for this week. Some plans don’t call for volume; some plans call for tweeting many times a day. Don’t let this scare you. It’s not all about providing information. Engage customers; ask questions; and ask for feedback too. There are also ways to link several accounts (TweetDeck is one) and update them at one time, assuming the same update is appropriate.
Focus is also an important part of being heard and developing loyal readers. Are you consistently entertaining? Can you endlessly regale readers with tips and tricks to help novice writers or new authors? Do you know every club and group for local writers and get their newsletters? Assuming you want to build a local audience, you can tweet events and news of local interest from many sources, mixed with your personal tips and comments. The idea is to help and/or entertain.
It’s not ok to sell, sell, sell. Although, it happens excessively as techie gurus find ways to spam people on every system. Don’t buy into pitches to get thousands of followers at contact building websites. Numbers don’t beget quality information and beneficial relationships.
It’s very important to have at least one or two good photos of you, your book covers, or your logos, to brand you or your company visually. This is a good place to point out that your logo or product image is not always the best choice. I recommend at least one photo of a person, especially where there is room to put more than one image. Market research shows that sales increase by 50% with a personal photo. It gives the company a face and makes you real. Next, be realistic about what you have and what you want to do with it.
Q: Would you share a couple of author success stories related to social media?
A: Sure. Here are a few recent examples, with links to read more about them.
A Paste Magazine article by Emily Riemer talks about Justin Halpern, who tweets his father’s comments into a book deal and a sitcom.
Mitali Perkins is a children’s book author, who increases her book signing attendance significantly with her customer interaction. I mentioned her earlier in the interview.
Pamela Slim’s blog became the book, Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur. It was released in April 2009.
Twitter Wit: Brilliance in 140 Characters or Fewer and The World According to Twitter are two other books that evolved from Twitter. Of course, there’s also the soaring musical career of Justin Bieber, after his mother uploaded his performance to share with friends and family.
Q: I realize that we have space for you to tell only part of the social media story. Where can we go to learn more about using these sites? Do you offer online workshops or is there a good book on the topic?
A: For the rote beginner, The Twitter Book, by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Millstein, gets good reviews and keeps the information accessible and simple. True experts wrote it. However, it’s over a year old. Therefore, there will be features and changes that are not covered. I doubt that problem is avoidable though. Social media programs change at warp speed.
Last year, Twitter launched a resource for businesses. Twitter 101 is easy to use, and the source is often the best place to get current information. I found it helpful for general information too. The downside is that it’s hard to print, and you have to dig through links online.
One of my favorite quick references still works well. It’s written by wingspouse (Twitter name), Kathi K. Browne. Time To Twitter: Using Social Media to Further Your Career is available online, printable, and includes a nice list of resource links. Mashable The Social Media Guide offers Twitter and Facebook Guidebooks, as well as how-to information on such things as creating effective online coupons. LinkedIn provides a comprehensive tutorial type of resource too. For those who want more technical and marketing information, I recommend signing up to receive SiteProNews articles.
Just to be clear, I don’t claim to be an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert. That very specialized professional field technically does not include social media, although it overlaps in many areas and the term often gets used generically.
I explain SEO and related services and help you decide when, or if, you need specific experts. There’s a lot you can do yourself. I gladly work with customers to plan, focus, and develop what goes into social media sites. In addition, I create, or teach you to create, the sites, and ongoing social media content from your newsletters, press releases, and other sources, as well. I’m also happy to work with marketing experts and to coordinate your projects when the geek speak gets overwhelming.
Q: Please add anything you feel is pertinent to our members.
A: Realize that you can expand your web presence with fun things too. Shelfari is great. It offers a place to put a profile, share information about what you read, and connect with people. The site also offers a cute bookshelf widget to display on your website or blog. I’m working on building my bookshelf. It will take time to get the books listed and fill in reviews and comments. However, it’s on my blog for those who are interested.
Flickr gets very high rankings in search engines and offers a place to share photos. They also provide wonderful widgets to build for your sites. Photos get attention and images add to page rank. Don’t go overboard, but don’t be afraid to try these things. Many are well behaved and easy for beginners to manage. People are visually oriented. In the US, a survey in the Wall Street Journal this year says consumers now spend more time watching television than sleeping.
Color plays a big part in social media too. If you can’t program custom colors to match your website or afford a custom design, there are free backgrounds available. Pick one that is close to your color scheme. It adds branding consistency. Some sites, like LinkedIn, intentionally don’t offer color options. They want the focus on business and content. However, you can do a lot with Featured Applications on LinkedIn, including adding a short PowerPoint presentation. For more information about using color effectively, I have an excellent article about color psychology on my website.
Also, remember to customize your site name when you set up social media sites. Be easy to find. Once you set up a site and profile on Twitter, give back by participating in traditions like Follow Friday and mention others by name. You gain new followers and more exposure for yourself. Keep in mind that search engines increasingly rate these sites, and that helps you too. Don’t be afraid to learn from others and ask questions. Someone has to take the lead, and the benefits can be substantial.
Facebook fans and Twitter followers who elect to support a product or service are the people who are most likely to buy and recommend those products and services. The statistics are impressive too, 51-67%, according to a recent study by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies. The same study found that consumers think brands that don’t use social media are out of touch, not interested in that demographic, not relevant in today’s market, etc. The survey respondents quoted ranged from 18 to 59 years old. The majority of the opinions I selected above came from respondents over 50! Take note; it’s not only young people out there.
Last of all; don’t pay for help without understanding what you are buying. Search engine marketing (SEM) relates to link building and website analytics. Search engine optimization (SEO) relates to keywords and content. Social media and social marketing campaigns promote a business or a brand and establish you, or your company, as an authority. They overlap, and you may need all three. Nevertheless, these services are not one-size fits all.
Q: What is your contact information? You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-490-6664. My website is PennyLeisch.com, and I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn. Of course, you can follow me on Twitter too.