Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rejection -- Use it to improve your writing

No writer -- no matter how seasoned -- likes rejection. You do get used to it, however, and you can learn to use it to improve your writing. How do you get to the point where you can learn from rejection? Practice....

Rejection at any stage in your writing career is tantamount to a swift whack in the knees with a sledge hammer. Recovery time decreases with repetition until it becomes routine for you to feel the sting then get back to work. Here are a few suggestions on how to use rejection to improve your writing:

1. Consider the rejection for what it is. The first time you receive a rejection letter, you feel as if the wind has been knocked out of you. You may consider quitting. You may become depressed. These are logical reactions. After all, you've sweated over your manuscript for months or years and are rewarded with a postcard saying..."Sorry, pal." Although it may seem as if the world has declared that you should find a new career, it ain't so. That rejection letter you just received came from one person at one publishing house. Don't let the opinion of one person -- someone you don't know -- change your career course. Although it hurts, put it in perspective and move on.

2. Consider the competition. With the advent of the computer, more and more people are writing books and submitting them in much less time than when writers used to write their books on legal pads and type them after they perfected them. Today, so many people have computers, the competition is greater. Have you done everything you can to ensure you're better than they are? Have you studied writing? Do you know point of view, voice, character development, back story, etc? If these terms don't mean anything to you, maybe you need to do a little more studying while you're writing. It's rare that someone can sit down and pump out a flawless book. Writing, like any profession, takes study and practice. So, be sure you have the skills of your competitors. Many writers submit two or three books before they write one that is good enough to elicit an acceptance letter from a publisher instead of a rejection letter. Don't take rejection personally. Instead, keep perfecting your craft.

3. Consider the economy. I'm not saying that you should not pursue a writing career because the economy is working against you. I'm just saying that there are fewer slots for the publication of your novel, so expect to work for your place in the sun.

4. Consider the type of rejection you've received. There are many types of rejections. Here are three:

There are form rejection letters that reaches you before you thought it physically possible for your manuscript to reach the publisher. If you receive one of these, you may want to make sure you followed the publisher's procedure in submitting your manuscript. It may have been sent back because they don't accept manuscripts from unagented writers or they want to receive a book proposal in a certain format rather than a full manuscript. Many times publishing houses send back manuscripts without even looking at them if the writer hasn't followed their guidelines. So be sure to do your homework. If you did follow the guidelines, send your book out again. The form rejection really doesn't give you any ideas of ways to revise your book.

Another type of rejection is the form letter with a handwritten note on it. Unless the note says, "Don't ever darken our door again," this is a good rejection. Someone took the time to actually write you a note. If the note says, "Good luck placing this elsewhere," move on. Send it to someone else. However, if the note says to re-submit after you revise, don't waste this invitation. Revise and resubmit.

A third type of rejection (the best rejection of them all) is a letter to you personally that tells you in detail what you should change. If the changes are in keeping with what you want for your book, make them and return the manuscript, being sure to send it to the editor who wrote the rejection letter to you. Editors don 't usually take the time to point out what should be changed in a book unless they are interested in your work. So, dry those tears...this one might lead to an acceptance.

When considering a rejection letter, learn from it. As quickly as you can, put your ego aside. Nurse your hurt feelings for a minute and a half and get busy on your writing. The more you write, the better your writing will become. So get out of your way and consider the possibility of receiving acceptance letters instead of dreaded rejection letters.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Marketing your book with an on-line newsletter (part 2)

An on-line newsletter is an effective marketing tool for many products, but it’s especially effective for marketing your book. Here is how to go about designing, developing, and distributing your newsletter:

1. Determine the topic of your newsletter and a good name for it. Just because you are a writer, your newsletter doesn’t need to be about writing. In fact, it’s better if it’s not. There are only a limited number of writers who will buy your book. Instead, make your newsletter about a broad topic related to the book. That way, you will attract potential customers. As writers, it is only natural to want to attract our writer friends to our book, but your real market is with those who are a fan of the topic. So if your book is about turtles, find people passionate about turtles.

2. Once you have determined the topic of your newsletter, begin developing a list of subjects that will become the different sections of your newsletter. For example, since you are writing a book about turtles, you could have your newsletter about turtles as well. Or, you could make the topic of your newsletter larger (conservation, for instance) than the topic of your book in order to make room for future books on similar topics. Anyway, for within the newsletter, you might have a general conservation section (where you put in short pieces about what is currently happening in the world of turtle conservation), you might have an events section (where you list local and national events, TV shows, movies, etc., about turtles), and you could have a section about your current activities (where you would list your activities in turtle conservation as well as how you are doing on the book).

3. Email or blog. You can distribute your newsletter by email or make it into a blog and distribute an email when you have posted a new newsletter. The choice is yours. The important part is to provide information that is entertaining and useful to your readers. Pack it with information that will convince them that you are a good writer and will make them want to hang around for the publication of your book.

4. Don’t make the newsletter about selling your book. Instead, make it about providing your readers with information. The sales will take care of themselves. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore promoting your book when it’s about ready for publication and it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put promotions in your newsletter for pre-publication sales or special sales after the book has been out a while. You should do all of those things but do them tastefully. Your readers will look forward to your newsletters if they know that it is truly a newsletter and not just another hard sell.


5. Be sure to list in the newsletter the launch of your book and book signing events. Your readers will want to keep up with you.

6. Give your readers a means to sign up for notification that the latest newsletter is out. You’ll want to build a distribution list. In the newsletter, ask your readers to send it on to others who might be interested and have new readers email you to be added to the distribution list. Through this, the list will grow and you will have a natural audience for marketing your book.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Marketing your book while you write it (part 1)

It's never too early to start gathering fans for your writing and your upcoming book. Your friends and family, of course, will be instant fans. I'm not talking about them. I am talking about creating a buzz for your topic with the people who have a natural interest in it.

Here are some ways to get started:

1. Identify your topic and related subjects. For example, if you're a non-fiction writer and writing a book about sea turtles, then that's your topic. Related subjects might be: marine life, oceans, sailing, cruising, beaches, dolphins, whale watching, etc. Make a list of every subject you can think of related to your topic.

If you are writing a novel, do the same. Identify the main topic of your book. It might be as broad as the name of the genre or the theme of the book. Then make a list of subjects related to your book. For example, if you are writing a murder mystery where the murder occurs in a hospital, some of your subjects might be: nurses, emergency room, medical mysteries, etc. Save your list.

2. Create a blog centered on your topic. Tell those who follow your blog about the book you are writing in an occasional post. Don’t use the majority of your posts to push your book however. Instead, use most of your posts to just talk about interesting facets of your topic and its subjects. Your point here is to encourage a conversation about a like-interest and to foster a connection with folks who share your interest. When you're ready to publish your book, they may turn into customers, but for now, you're just creating a connection.

3. Writing and posting your blog entry is not enough. It's important to touch base with people who are interested in your topic. Do this by establishing a Twitter site about your topic and start following people who are interested in your topic and related subjects. If you make your tweets interesting, valuable and entertaining, those people will follow you back. When you post a blog entry, tweet the URL to your followers and tell them what you’ve posted. For example, for this blog entry, I tweeted: Just posted "Marketing your book while you write it" to http://www.loubelcher.com/blog/


4. In addition, join social media groups, such as Facebook, My Space, or ones related to your topic at ning.com to find people who are interested in your topic and subjects.


Watch for part 2: Marketing through on-line newsletters.