Sunday, June 01, 2008
A Little Hair Pulling Help and Banner Beggin'
Hair Pulling Help
As most writers soon discover, there's far more to writing than just crafting an entertaining story. You have to prepare your manuscript for submission, and in the case of novels, you have to write a compelling query letter and then you have to market yourself as if you know what you're doing. It's enough to send a writer into a bit of a hair pulling frenzy.
Well, today I've got a couple of links to help save at least a hair or two. This is old news for some of you, but hopefully it will help a few folks that still have their hair.
Make It Pretty
Unless you've taken a class on the subject or have a writer in the family, one of the things that you simply don't know as a new writer is how to format a manuscript for submission to an editor. And believe me, in my brief couple of years as an editor of a small mag there are lots of writers who don't know how to do this. A clean well-formatted manuscript makes an important strong first impression showing a commitment to being a professional. It can be a tedious job, but formatting is very important so don't skimp on the details. Hence, the following link is a good guideline for formatting a manuscript for submission (but remember to always read the specific guidelines of the editor you're submitting to--some have special requirements...sometimes silly ones...they have their reasons or they're sadist, but do it anyway):
William Shunn: Manuscript Formatting - Click Here!
Another important tool in the writer's tool kit is the skill of writing an compelling query to a publisher or an agent. Like a handshake at a meeting, the query letter is the first impression you give a potential agent or publisher of your work. Since they receive tons of queries everyday, a busy publisher or agent wants your query short, concise and clean. This sounds simple, but there's a real art to a great query letter. Here's a place to peruse for some very good advice on this mystical maddening writer's necessity:
Query Shark - Click Here!
Work It Baby
There are those lucky folks that are in the right place at the right moment and it all falls into place for them, but most of us have to do the hard work of getting our writing noticed by publishers and readers alike. Volumes have been written on the need to market in the writing business and amongst writers there are heated debates on this subject, but coming from a sales background and also running a private therapy practice for many years, I've learned that you have to do a little legwork or you wither on the vine waiting.
I guess my biggest lesson came from the Condo King. As a Realtor years ago, I worked with a marketing firm and they taught me the concept of "making it so." They introduced me to the Condo King, a guy struggling like all new Realtors to get a steady list of clients, that is until he bought a billboard and crowned himself the Condo King. Was he the Condo King? Debatable, but he indeed made it so with that billboard that turned him into the local go-to guy for condos. He talked the talk, but ultimately he walked the walk and delivered on his promise as the Condo King.
As writers our name and our work are our brand. I can hear the cringing of many writers as I say that, but it's a simple truth. What do you think when you hear about a new Stephen King, JK Rowling or Dean Koontz book? Most fans of their work think, "Oooo, gotta get that!" It's just like the album of your favorite band or the latest Prada purse dangling on a celeb's arm or a new Lamborghini model ripping up asphalt around the world --brands, baby.
But for the lowly writer without an army of marketers we've got to work with what we have at hand. First and foremost, good product and a good reputation. 1) Learn to write well and seek out teachers and colleagues who will offer you honest criticism. Let the sting of imperfection fade and learn from their comments. 2) Be professional and kind (or at least polite) in your public dealings. Blasting folks on message boards can be the kiss of death to your reputation. 3) Join message boards, writers groups, professional writers organizations and go to conventions. Get to know folks and build a good reputation that will help when your submission comes up for consideration. 4) Help others succeed. It feels really good to be helpful and people will remember your kindness. 5) Blog regularly, write articles, offer to interview your colleagues, volunteer to be a first reader or to do some editing for a mag or anthology--get your name out there so that when your submission comes before the editors and their choice is you or an equally talented writer whose name is completely unfamiliar, you'll have that slight and oh so important advantage.
I recently found a couple of free or inexpensive advertising resources to help spread the word. You might want to give them a try:
Horrorfind Banner Exchange
GenreBanners.com - Permuted Press Banner Exchange
Project Wonderful - Work like Ebay, bidding for banner ad space on sites of your choice
Well, this little blog has turned into a bit of a monster, but I hope you may have a least found something of interest here. Now I'm off to get some work done!
PS: Speaking of banners, if you have a little space for a snazzy Apex/MB banner I'd be honored if you'd post it for us. Please let me know if you do! Here's the banner and the link:
Link to: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=24
Embed direct code - copy and paste into website or About me Myspace code (be sure change red brackets [ ] to same facing arrows < >):
[a target="_blank" href="http://www.apexbookcompany.com/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=24"][img border="0" src="http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c333/franfriel/APEX_Mamas_banner.gif" /][/a]