Promote Your Fiction Book Through Spin Offs
By Patricia L. Fry
What’s a spin off? It’s a by-product or a follow-up to the original. Within the context of a book, it might be a sequel or any number of other writings related to the theme of your book.
The point of a spin off is to generate more sales. Not only will you have additional items to sell, but each book, pamphlet, guide, article or list that you produce is a marketing tool for the original book.
Let’s say that you’ve written a novel that depicts life in a small town in Pennsylvania, follow up with a book featuring bed and breakfast inns in that state or create a mystery for readers to solve based on some of the characters in your original book. Maybe you’ve compiled a book of your poetry. Next, produce a pocket calendar or greeting cards highlighting some of the lines from your best poems.
Write a companion book for you historical novel profiling real people from the period you featured in your original book or design a walking tour map for the area where your story is set. Or design a quaint book of quotes from that time period.
Produce a sequel to your original story and promote it to your entire mailing list—especially those folks who purchased your first book.
Write articles and short stories to bring attention to the theme of your book. Submit them to appropriate magazines, newsletters and Web sites. (Read about how to write and submit articles in “A Writer’s Guide to Magazine Articles,” Matilija Press.)
Publish a newsletter related to the theme of your original book or to the process of writing a novel. Promote it through your Web site and to your customer list.
Package something with your book—an Indian dream catcher with a book profiling an American native tribe, a magnifying glass for a mystery novel or a packages of sunflower seeds for a book of poetry that’s related to flowers and gardening, for example.
Plan carefully before launching your spin off. Ask yourself:
Who is my audience?
What have my readers asked for?
Is there something I should have included in my original book?
How will I distribute the spin off item?
Is it cost effective to produce another book/pamphlet or other items?
Give your customers more than they expected. Think about how you feel when you go to the store to buy an avocado, for example, and discover that you can get two for the price of one. Delight your customers by giving them something extra.
Create handouts to package with your book shipments and to give at book signings, book festivals and presentations. Several authors I know hand out well-crafted bookmarks or tiny charms depicting an aspect of their story (an animal or a famous landmark for example. I offer my meditation walking article to folks interested in my metaphysical book, Quest for Truth (Matilija Press). And I love handing out copies of some of my writing articles when promoting my writing books. Budding authors particularly enjoy my article featuring a self-publishing timeline.
Before thinking about your next book, consider writing a spin off to promote your original book. Sometimes it pays to keep all of your eggs in one basket.
Patricia L. Fry is the author of 25 books including “A Writer’s Guide to Magazine Articles” and her latest one, “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book,” http://www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html Follow her publishing blog at http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.
The Writer's Journal
By Patricia L. Fry
There’s no better way for a writer to start the flow of creative juices than by writing. That’s just one reason why so many writers keep a journal.
Journaling is often more relaxing and meaningful than the writing you do for a living. You’re not writing under pressure. You can take writing risks because no one else is going to read it. In the process, you will hone your writing skills and discover your literary strengths. Through journal-keeping, writers can reinvent themselves as writers.
Following are some creative and useful ways you can use your journal:
Work through writer’s block. We all suffer the curse of the dreaded blank screen syndrome from time to time. The next time it happens to you, turn to your journal. For this exercise, I suggest using a journal book instead of your computer. Get away from your desk and start writing by hand.
Just let the words flow without thinking about them. Don’t worry about sentence structure and grammar; just write whatever comes to mind. If you need a jumpstart, choose a topic. Describe the room you’re in, an object within your view or your cat, for example. Write about a recent outing that you enjoyed—a day at the shore, a hike or a shopping spree. Once the words are flowing nicely, turn your attention to the topic that had you blocked earlier. Focus your thoughts and your writing on that subject and you may be surprised at what pearls will appear.
Clear the clutter from your mind. A writer must learn to set everything else aside in order to focus on the work at hand. If there’s something keeping you from concentrating on your work, write about it.
Try this technique: Write about whatever is on your mind. Just let the words roll out. If you can type faster than you can write, you may want to do this exercise on the computer. Some of your thoughts will make sense and others may not. Don’t stop to analyze your thoughts. Just keep writing/typing. If you already know what is hanging you up, this is a good way to get it off of your chest. If you don’t know what is bothering you, keep writing and it will eventually be revealed. Then you can most likely return to work feeling less burdened and more productive.
Soothe the pain of rejection. A writer with any ambition at all, will face rejection. It’s a fact of the working writer’s life. It’s also a fact that sometimes rejection will get you down. When this happens, turn to your journal. Document your successes—the article you sold last week, your published book, your third place award in the recent short story contest, the complimentary review about your book online and the other three articles that have been requested this month. Raise your spirits by writing about your achievements instead of dwelling on rejection.
Resolve problems. Journaling is an excellent decision-making tool. Writing about a problem is more effective than simply thinking about it, because thoughts tend to keep circling around in your head. Write down your thoughts, feelings and ideas about a situation. You’ll gain a new perspective and the way will be cleared to a solution.
Let’s say that you are undecided about whether or not to take a part-time job. List the pros and cons. After examining your list, highlight those items that are most significant to you. While making more money is important, you might decide that being home with your children, doing what you love and having the opportunity to express your creativity might hold more meaning for you at this time.
Increase creativity. A journal can be your creative outlet. Let’s say that you spend your days designing brochures for business clients or writing nonfiction articles and you yearn to write poetry or short stories. Use your journal to express yourself through poetry, for example.
Devote a section of your journal to story ideas. Draw or sketch images representing your thoughts throughout the pages of your journal.
Boost your confidence. A journal can help to keep your spirits up. Here’s my favorite technique: Establish a Me page in your journal. Write about the happy things in your life (your family, a beloved pet, wonderful friends, a lovely home and good health, for example). List your accomplishments (the ability to ski, the fact that you’re a published author, that you won first place on your jam at the county fair and an honorable mention in the short story contest two years ago.) Visit this page whenever your confidence is sagging.
Chart your course. A journal can be your life story, a book of memories or a collection of your dreams. It’s a safe place to express your most private thoughts and to work through your most difficult dilemmas. A journal is a roadmap outlining where you’ve been which, in turn, will help you to determine where you’re going. And this can be a valuable tool in the success of you’re writing career.
Patricia Fry is a full-time freelance writer, editor, consultant and international speaker. She is the author of 25 books, including 8 related to writing/publishing. Her latest book, “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book,” has received thirteen 5-star reviews to date. Order this book at: http://www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html. Patricia is the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) www.spawn.org. Read her blog at http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.
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Network Your Way to Writing Success
By Patricia L. Fry
What happened the last time you attended a writer’s conference or workshop? Were all of your questions answered? Did you talk to writers or publishers who could influence or guide your career? Or were you too timid to raise your hand or approach anyone?
Signing up for a writer’s conference affords you more than what you can glean simply from listening attentively to scheduled speakers. It’s an opportunity to network: to exchange information and ideas with other writers, editors and publishers as well as the presenters.
We each attend writing events with different expectations. Sometimes, in order to have your expectations met, you must reach out. Let’s say that you are interested in writing stories for children’s magazines and the presenter, a children’s book author, didn’t talk about that. You have choices. You can go home feeling disappointed or you can activate your networking skills. How? Raise your hand and ask a question during the Q & A portion of the presentation. Speak to the author after the meeting. Get her card and contact her later. Or talk to some of the other audience members. Since the topic is writing for children, you might find another attendee with the information you seek.
As with all forms of communication, there are standards. The following will guide you in honing your networking skills.
1: Network everywhere you go. Whether you’re seeking an editor for your manuscript, an expert for an article idea or a publisher for your novel, network anytime—all the time. Talk about your project whenever anyone asks what you’ve been doing lately or what you’re working on now. Mention it to your child’s teacher, the butcher, your accountant, people you meet socially and especially other writers.
I landed a job rewriting brochures for a large water company and recreational area a few weeks ago after mentioning to someone at a Toastmasters meeting that I’m a writer. I found a potential publisher for a client’s manuscript while discussing the project with another author at a recent book festival. Last year, I told a writer friend over coffee that I wanted to break into her field—technical writing. She introduced me to an editor for a local technology-related magazine and I’ve since sold them nearly a dozen articles.
2: Pay attention: Some of the best networking opportunities at conferences and workshops occur among attendees rather than with the presenter. When you arrive, notice who’s there. Listen to what they say to one another and during the question and answer portion of the program.
If you need a publisher for your mystery story, for example, and someone asks a question about promoting his recently published novel, make a note to talk to this person after the session. Perhaps you’re trying to find a child development expert to interview for an article and someone from the audience introduces herself as a child psychologist. You may want to discuss your project with her when the program is over.
3: Ask for what you want. When you approach someone with networking in mind, be clear about the information you seek. Avoid all about questions. Instead of asking an author, “How do I get my book published?” ask what resources she would suggest to help you find a publisher and to better understand the submission process.
4: Listen and learn. Listening is the most important part of networking. When you ask for information or an opinion, you won’t always get the response you expect. Instead of discarding it, store it away. You never know when this will be just the knowledge or material you need.
5: Don’t debate. It may be tempting to respond to a suggestion by saying, “But, I already tried that.” Or “I know a successful author who didn’t do it that way.” This is no time to argue and complain. Accept what you are given and move on. If you don’t agree or the suggestion is outside your comfort zone, simply disregard it. Don’t burden the other person with your fears and prejudices.
6: Expand your network. Before walking away from a networking opportunity, request additional resources. Ask, “Is there anyone else I could talk to about this?” or “What’s the best book or website on the subject?”
7: Respect the time and space of others. Be succinct and to the point when requesting information or ideas from someone. If you have additional questions after ten or fifteen minutes with this person, ask for a business card and permission to email or call at a later date. If you desire a substantial amount of this person’s time, ask what they charge for a consultation and then make an appointment.
8: Do your homework. Never ask someone who has given you a resource, “Would you call him for me?” or “Could you look that up?” Do your own legwork.
9: Express your gratitude. Always thank the individual who has given of his/her time and expertise. Thank them on the spot, of course, and also later. Give him/her a call, send a card or an email to let them know how you used their information and how helpful it was. Also consider reciprocating in kind. If you run across something you think might be of value to the networkee, send it along.
Networking is no more difficult than engaging in small talk, but it can mean the difference between the success and failure of your project or career. Reach out. This is how you’ll find the resources and information you need in order to achieve the success you desire.
Patricia Fry is the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) www.spawn.org. She is also a full-time freelance writer and the author of 25 books including, “The Successful Writer’s Handbook” and “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book.” www.matilijapress.com. Follow Patricia’s ongoing writing/publishing blog at www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.