Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blog Action Day

On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind. In 2007 the issue is the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. The aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.

They are looking for bloggers of all nationalities and backgrounds, writing about all topics to join in. By joining this day, you can get your blog to be better known within the blogiverse.

Here’s what you have to do:

Publish on October 15th -- Publish a post on their blog which relates to an issue of their own choice pertaining to the environment.

For example: A blog about money might write about how to save around the home by using environmentally friendly ideas. Similarly a blog about politics might examine what weight environmental policy holds in the political arena.

"Posts do not need to have any specific agenda. They simply need to relate to the larger issue in whatever way suits the blogger and readership. Our aim is not to promote one particular viewpoint, only to push the issue on the table for discussion. So write in whatever way suits your readers and your blog, just relate it back to the environment and make sure it goes up on October 15th."

To sign up to join Blog Action Day, go to

Monday, August 27, 2007

Book Signings Are Your Best Friends

Guest article by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

So you’ve written a book, had it published and you are now facing the dreaded book signing or book launch. Your palms sweat at the thought of facing droves of people and actually having to talk to them. You are a writer, not a salesperson, right? Wrong! If you do not have the guts and determination to sell your own work, then why should anyone else do it for you?

Book signings are your lifeline -- your best friends.

Before you step out into virgin territory and cross that boundary that is called a book signing, endless questions will bombard your brain. How many books should you expect to sell? What if you don’t sell any books? And what if someone should ask that one little question that makes you quiver and shake in your shoes: “What’s your book about?”

In Canada, according to many managers at Coles, Indigo and Chapters bookstores, an average book signing is approximately $100.00 in retail sales. So if your book retails for $20.00, then selling 5 books would be considered okay. However, many authors in Canada and the US have gone home without even one sale. Many authors will sell $100.00 or less; some will achieve $100 to $300.00 in sales; and very few will see more than $300.00 in consistent sales at a signing. And fewer still will sell over $600.00 in books. So where are the hundreds of book sales that you hear about in the news, and the long lines of people anxiously waiting all night? Unless you are J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Nora Roberts or you are on the New York Times bestseller list, the reality is there probably won’t be a line longer than a family of four, and $100.00 in sales represents an average book signing event. Now that is not to say that you can’t sell more.

What makes a good book signing? YOU DO!

You set the tone by how you lay out your display on the table, how you dress and stand, how you think about signings, how you approach people, and how excited you are about your book. You represent your craft, your talent and your product. So how can you achieve sensational sales?

Follow these simple guidelines and watch your sales soar:

Tables should be covered with clean tablecloths. Books should be displayed in stands and not left in stacks on the table. Signage should clearly state why you are there and who you are. Posters with your book covers, book reviews and excerpts can be displayed if you have the use of a wall or a tabletop easel. Draw people in by giving away a prize. Have them fill out their email address on the entry form so that you can invite them to sign up for your e-newsletter. And NEVER, EVER GIVE AWAY YOUR BOOK. If the prize is your book, do not be surprised when your sales are non-existent. Why should they buy when they can win it?

Present yourself in a friendly, approachable but professional manner by dressing accordingly. It is also important to dress according to the image you present as a genre or expert writer. For example, if you’re writing a book on riding with the Hell’s Angels and the photo on the back of your book is of you in black leather pants, don’t show up in a three-piece suit. However if you’re writing steamy romance novels, don’t expect to show up wearing a dress with a ripped bodice. Professionalism is key. Dressy casual always works. And during Christmas time, glitter attracts attention. If nothing else, people will stop by just to see what all the sparkle is about.

Body language can make or break a sale. If you stand with your arms crossed, no matter how comfortable you are, people will assume you don’t want to be bothered. They will think you are unapproachable and will steer clear. You will get the same reaction if you turn your back. NEVER turn your back to talk to someone behind your table. Many sales have been lost by this thoughtless gesture. Stand with your arms loose by your sides or clasped loosely in front or behind your back. This shows that you are relaxed and easygoing. Monitor the crowd by sitting for short durations. Every crowd is different. Some prefer to check out your table while you sit. But never hide behind your table! Once you or they initiate conversation, stand up, smile and sell them on your personality.

When you are preparing for an event, make sure your attitude is turned UP! Attitude is contagious! If you are excited about your signing, everyone you meet will be excited. If you are dreading it or telling yourself you hate book signings, everyone will see that and your sales will take a nosedive. Love those book signing events! They are your best friends, remember? There are golden opportunities at every event. Media will often contact an author they have seen at a signing. I have personally had four interviews (TV, radio and newspapers) within two months because of a chance encounter at a signing. And there is no better way to become known than by public exposure.

Everyone you meet should be approached with respect. Treat them as if they are the President of your Fan Club. Have a handout (bookmarks are best) ready to give to anyone who passes by, but do not be the pushy credit card salesperson. Look for eye contact. Smile and greet them. Then offer something to draw this potential fan to your table. Business cards, brochures and entry forms for a contest work wonders. Talk to them while they fill out the form and tell them: Who you are, What you are doing, Where you’ll be next, When you’ll be there and Why they should buy your book now.

Know exactly what to say when someone asks: “What is your book about?” Think of a movie trailer for your book. How would the announcer describe it? Be prepared by writing down a script and practicing it before your signing. Be enthusiastic, positive and animated, and your audience will be intrigued. When the opportunity presents itself, hand them a copy of your book to feel and look at. The action of placing that book in their hands will dramatically increase your sales. Invite them to read the first page or chapter. Then let them know that you would be happy to autograph the book for them.

High, consistent sales depend on three things: knowing your target audience, having a positive, enthusiastic attitude and providing a great product. If your book is full of obvious typos and glaring errors (especially on the back cover), you’ve wasted your money and your potential fan’s time. Make sure your books have been edited by three pair of unbiased eyes before you self-publish. Nothing will turn off a sale faster than improper use of punctuation and spelling missteaks. Know your target audience. Know exactly who would buy your book for themselves and who would buy it as a gift. And always monitor your attitude, reminding yourself throughout the day that every person you meet is a potential sale.

Follow the guidelines above and remember that the most important aspect of any event can be summed up by two words: HAVE FUN! Relax and enjoy the fact that you are a published author and that you have a book that is worthy of public adoration. If you have an exceptional product, are positive and lively, know your target audience and follow these steps, then you will be one of the few authors in North America who will consistently sell more than $300.00 per book signing. You must BELIEVE in your book in order to effectively sell it. You must also believe in yourself, in your skills as a writer. You must become a shameless promoter. Why should you feel shame? Your book is worth promoting, right? Enjoy every opportunity you have of turning a book signing into pure gold.

A previous version of this article was published as Book Signings Are Pure Gold for WestWord magazine.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif is the author of Whale Song, Divine Intervention, and The River. She has appeared on television and radio, and has been featured in newspapers and magazines across Canada and the US. Her book signing sales are often well above $600.00.

Visit her at or

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pitching to Magazines

In a recent blog post, Kelly Powers of Obie Joe Media offers some great advice on how to read a magazine to dissect how to pitch them for maximum effectiveness.

Read about it here: 2007/08/dissecting-magazines-for-authors-gain.html

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Book Covers: Another View

Today's Shelf Awareness newsletter interviewed book critic John McFarland. One question they asked was the title of a book he had bought only for the cover. Here was his answer:

"Juno and Juliet by Julian Gough. How could anyone resist identical twins dressed for swimming and looking like two mysterious sleek seals?"

What's your take on the cover? Here it is:

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Very Ineffective Book Cover

The above book cover from Penguin Press is a terrible book cover. I do hope that it is just a place holder at and will be changed to a real cover soon.

If the above is the cover going into bookstores, I have to wonder why Penguin Press is letting monkeys design their book covers these days. I apologize for the bad joke, but this cover is a bad joke.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Speaking from Your Legs

The following is a short article written by Eileen Parker, who teaches authors how to perform their best in a media interview. For more about her services, see

During a media interview, a rock-solid posture is a no-no. It restricts your breathing so you sound tense and weak, even tinny. Put all your weight on your legs and hips to relax and open up your body to a confident-sounding voice (even if you are not feeling that way). Here is how:

Your Weak Voice

Sit in your chair and assume a solid posture then lean back a little. Talk about your book as if you are in a media interview. How do you sound?

Your Strong Voice

Scoot forward in your chair so the bottom of your bottom is at the chair’s edge. Put your feet on the floor hip-distance apart. Lean forward slightly so the back of your bottom lifts a little. Your hip and leg muscles will tighten slightly. Talk about your book again. Now how do you sound?

Your Strong and Relaxed Voice

Now that you have the weight of your body on your legs and hips, loosen everything above it. Keep your back straight, but not tight. Starting with the top of your head relax your upper body while imagining it as going down an elevator. Relax your throat and jaw, your shoulders go down, and your chest and stomach relax. Feel the tension flowing down out of your upper body into your hips and legs. Talk about your book. How do you sound?

Relaxed Mind

If your brain were a muscle, I would tell you to relax that too. But, this upper body relaxing does relax the brain. Tension begets tension, but relaxation also begets relaxation. Relaxation results in greater confidence, or at least sounding that way. Sounding confident makes you feel more confident. Now, talk about your book confidently.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Interview with Jeff Rivera, novelist

Forever My Lady is the award-winning novel that tells the story of a Latino juvenile delinquent that turns his life around. Originally self-published, the book was picked up by Grand Central and is now available in bookstores or on his website at

Q: You took a very unconventional route to get your novel out there. What challenges did you encounter along the way?

A: I would go to the Self-Publisher's Hall of Fame webpage on your site and I would visualize myself as one of those people who got picked up by a major publisher. I typed in my name on that list and printed it out because I wanted it to happen so bad. I had no idea the prejudice that some people had to self-published books, but strangely enough not from the publishing industry. It was more from the literary snobs and writers that were against non-traditional ways of publishing. I think the greatest challenge was sticking with the book when I didn't see the results I wanted to see right away. But I was passionate about the story an believed it had to get out there.

Q: Why do you think Warner Books/Grand Central picked it up so fast?

A: I knew my market. I knew exactly who the book belonged to. In my case it was Latinos, but more specifically those interested in urban Latino literature. Once I figured that out I was able to gear my pitches to people who were interested in serving that market as well. Also I really worked to make the book the best it possibly could be. I would take walks along the beach and visualize people reading the book and feel them really getting into it. I did the same thing when visualizing the right editor. And quite frankly I had what they were looking for.

Q: You have received thousands of fan letters and emails about Forever My Lady from people all over the world, why are so many people excited about the book?

A: I think it's a universal story that everyone can relate to. Everyone knows what it's like to love someone so much or want something so bad -- and that person or thing doesn't want you back. And in terms of my particular market, I think they felt like, "Finally, there's a story for us."

Q: Would you suggest people self-publish as a way to break in? If so, why?

A: Absolutely, it's not the best way necessarily but neither is traditional publishing. I would say, try traditional first. If that doesn't work, go for it. Know the pros and cons. Then go for it 100%.

Q: What would you do over again if you could?

A: In retrospect nothing, because I learned so much along the way and I can help people now and tell them what to avoid. The whole thing has been a rewarding experience even when I was in bed crying from not selling a million books in the first week.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Teleseminar: Magazine and Newspaper Publicity

My friend Steve Harrison is hosting a free teleseminar on Seven Things You Absolutely Must Know to Get Publicity in Major Magazines and Newspapers at 2:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, August 9th.

The 90-minute call will explain the three biggest mistakes most people make trying to get publicity in magazines and newspapers. You'll learn how to create relationships with top magazine editors, how a woman was so good at getting advance publicity that her book hit the New York Times bestseller list before publication date, a simple strategy for scoring an Associated Press story about you that runs in dozens of newspapers across the country, and how to spin a small story into a much larger feature for yourself.

To join in on this phone call, go to:

Friday, August 03, 2007

Publishing Calendars

Reader Question: I've enjoyed your book 1,001 Ways to Market Your Books, immensely. However, I'm a photographer and would like to self-publish a fine art calendar. I'm having difficulty finding the best route to go. Would I also hire distributors to get my product into bookstores? I plan to market the calendar primarily at art festivals, but I'm looking for other distribution channels. Any thoughts.

John's Answer: I rarely encourage anyone to self-publish a calendar. Calendar publishing is a high-risk proposition if you are marketing to the retail trade. Calendars are dead in December and are returned heavily very soon after that.

Calendars for the retail market must be ready by May/June of the prior year. Must be distributed over the summer. Die in December. Buried in January -- buried in your warehouse as they are returned.

That doesn't mean you can't sell a calendar via your website and art festivals. But note that calendars, because they are full-color, are also expensive to print. To find appropriate printers, check out some of the magazine/catalog printers who would probably also be competitive in printing a calendar:

I would suggest you consider selling the rights to a good calendar publisher like Ronnie Sellers Productions out of Maine. I think they would like your work.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Poetry Books: Best Options

Question from reader: I'm 15 years old and love writing. It's my true passion. I write free verses, modern poetry. I was just looking for a good publisher. Could you please assist me through this? I really want to bring out new poetry to the audience, because people seem to have forgotten poetry and go for Harry Potter or other fiction genres. I really know I can do this, and will try my best. I'm still writing and have around 20 free verses by now, obviously I'll continue.

John's Answer: For poetry, a book only sells if an author actually goes out and does a lot of readings. Most poets don't want to do that but, if you do, you can be successful as a published poet, although you might have to self-publish.

You can easily self-publish your book -- and much more quickly than any publisher -- by using a print-on-demand service. See for a great list of such services. Among others, you can try Infinity Publishing, Iuniverse, or

Aim to publish a book of poems that's about 60 to 80 pages long. Once you publish your book of poems, you can sell the books at your poetry readings. Start by checking out your local library author programs, local bookstores, and places around your city that do open poetry readings. Most cities have anywhere from 5 to 10 open poetry nights around the city hosted by various venues (coffee houses, bars, comedy clubs, etc.).

Also, check out my story about an author that is selling lots of books -- poetry and a first novel -- on the subways of New York: selling-books-on-nyc-subway_29.html. As a 15-year-old, of course, you'd want at least one of your parents along if you were to ride the subways of New York every day.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Copywriting Manuscripts

A week ago, I spoke at the Learning Annex in Los Angeles to a group of about 30 authors. During my talk, I told the authors that they did not have to copyright their book before sending the manuscript out to publishers.

First, putting a copyright notice on your manuscripts marks you as an amateur.

Second, some editors will not look at a manuscript that has a copyright notice because if the publisher ends up publishing a similar book, the author will accuse the publisher of stealing (when, in truth, there's a good chance that the publisher might already have a similar book in the works).

Third, publishers hate dealing with paranoid authors. I've seen manuscripts sent to publishers where there was a big copyright notice on every page. Yuk.

Fourth, publishers can buy authors for less money than it would cost them to steal the author's book idea. Why? Because most authors are desperate to be published and sign bad contracts. And because the publisher would have to hire a professional writer to rework the book if they were going to steal the book idea. That would always be more expensive than buying the rights from a debut author.

Fifth, every manuscript is already protected by copyright without a copyright notice or official copyright submission.

Note: When an author signs a contract with a publisher, they should make sure the book is copyrighted in their (the author's) name. A very few publishers do try to sneak in a copyright under their name.

Well, one of the participants questioned my advice about copyrights.

She wrote me the following:

One of my contacts through The Hampton's Writer's Table asked his editor friends at the following book publishers about whether it was considered amateur to copyright a book. Their responses follow. John, with all due respect for you and your success, I must comment that advising novice writers to avoid copyrighting their material is..., well, the overwhelming response from the table was that you really shouldn't tell people such things, even if it is common practice among some publishers.

Meredith Books — I can't imagine that would be a turn off, but I don't know for sure. Sorry.

Simon & Schuster — I wouldn't think so… I doubt that anyone would pay much attention to it.

Dutton — No taboo. It's fine for authors to copyright their work.

Well, I still disagree. My experience with many, many editors and publishers is that they don't like working with amateur authors and putting a big copyright notice on a manuscript submission is a clear sign of an amateur. Professionals know they are protected.

It doesn't mean that you can't copyright the manuscript if you are really paranoid. If you must, you must, but don't make a big production of it. One small copyright notice on the title page is all you need. No extra verbiage. No paranoid wording. Simply the standard copyright notice: Copyright 2007 by John Kremer. You can use the copyright symbol, but I don't know how to get blogger to enter that into a blog entry.

But, again, here is my basic point: Publishers will not steal from an author. It simply doesn't make sense. Authors are far too paranoid. That paranoia if too explicit will turn off publishers.

Having said all that, if you'd like to see a list of more than 400 editors at major publishers who have bought a first novel from a new writer within the past two years, go here:
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