Take-away for July's Writers Publishing Exchange Zoom meeting: Originality Is Key to Book Publicity
Multi-genre author Sandra Marchetti gave an empowering Q&A at our July Zoom. The author of Confluence, a debut full-length collection of poetry, Sandra is also the author of four chapbooks of poetry and lyric essays. Her poetry appears in River Styx, Poet Lore, Ecotone, Blackbird, Southwest Review, and elsewhere. Her essays can be found at The Rumpus, Mid-American Review, Barrelhouse, Pleiades, and other venues. Sandy completed her MFA in Creative Writing-Poetry at George Mason University and is the Coordinator of Tutoring Services at the College of DuPage, just outside of Chicago.
Originality, she says, is key to publicizing your book. Originality earns higher book sales and a wider readership. Here are 4 major takeaways and some impactful tips.
Tip 1: Multiple Audiences. Consider the themes in your book and turn those into second and third audiences. For example, my memoir about expatriotism discusses architecture, women’s sexuality, and indigenous people. Travelers, architects, and women are therefore audiences I should market to.
Tip 2: No read—No Buy. Marchetti has seen that if she doesn’t read at the literary events she’s done, people don’t buy. Apparently the spoken narrative compels people to buy. So if you’re planning just to show up at a bookstore and sign books, plan to preface that signing and increase sales by actually reading from your work. Anyone who can offer solid advice on reading from multiple books wins a free WPS online meeting.
Tip 3: Beyond the Bookstore. Marketing to bookstores is on the nose, so to speak. That is, consider reading at a coffee shop or some other social place that caters to a broader audience. Since one of WPE’s authors writes culinary mysteries, she’s considering coordinating activities with local chefs, cooking schools, or pastry/cupcake shops where there’s an establish audience who would enjoy a unique event.
Tip 4: Vary Your Blurbs. Today, blurbs come from beyond the literary arena. Marchetti, for instance, earned a blurb from a video game producer whose game centers on the same subject as one of her books—which also extends her audience.
Other tips/points of interest:
We feature agents, authors, editors, publishers, publicists, and others in the publishing industry as speakers. If you’re interested in presenting to the WPE or have a suggestion of someone who should, email me.
Writers Publishing Exchange will have a speaker next week to help propel and inform our publishing careers.
Sandra Marchetti and I met on SheWrites back in 2011 where we were learning about platforms and submissions and other things few MFA programs teach. She has repeatedly opened my eyes to what goes on behind the scenes of publishing. Watching her climb higher and higher on that ladder of success has also been wonderful.
Sandra will share insight gleaned from her experience as a poet and essayist publishing in long and short form. She will discuss establishing a platform that includes awards, the realities of how a book and author earn publicity, formatting manuscripts, etc.
Sandra is the author of Confluence, a full-length collection of poetry from Sundress Publications. She is also the author of four chapbooks of poetry and lyric essays, including Sight Lines (Speaking of Marvels Press, 2016), Heart Radicals (ELJ Publications, 2016), A Detail in the Landscape (Eating Dog Press, 2014), and The Canopy (MWC Press, 2012). Sandra’s poetry appears in Poet Lore, Blackbird, Ecotone, Southwest Review, River Styx, and elsewhere. Her essays can be found at The Rumpus, Whiskey Island, Mid-American Review, Barrelhouse, Pleiades, and other venues. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing—Poetry from George Mason University and now serves as the Coordinator of Tutoring Services at the College of DuPage in the Chicagoland area.
There will be a Q&A afterward with Sandra and then a discussion with the group. Ask the group questions about any part of the publishing process or for leads, for beta readers, for critiques, etc.
Join us via Zoom from 7-830 PM on Wednesday, 17 July. $10 payment required via Zelle or Paypal for meeting link. (We pay speakers.) Contact me for more information.
If you're interested in speaking or have an idea for a speaker, let me know. If you're interested in participating in a critique group, give a shout out. Please spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Roxane Gary started PANK, which gave her visibility. Cheryl Strayed was published in The Sun and wrote the Dear Sugar column in The Rumpus. We could go on and on about the various ways nonfiction's biggest names developed their platforms. The common theme would be that they had a platform. Platforms gave them name recognition and an audience who already knew them (much like celebrities), which exponentially amplified their chances of being picked up by a publisher and agent.
Do you have a platform? Are you using it to talk to the prospective readers, or are you only talking to other writers? Nonfiction writers, unlike fiction writers or poets, unequivocally must have a platform. However, other genre writers also boost their chances of landing a more prestigious agent and publisher with a developed platform.
Jane Friedman, who has worked for F+W Media and the Virginia Quarterly Review and whose advice to aspiring authors has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NPR, offers abundant advice on how to build your platform. Consider the visibility notion.
"Visibility means: Where do you or your work regularly appear? How many people see it? How does it spread? Where does it spread? What communities are you a part of? Who do you influence?" she writes. "It’s typically not enough to say you have visibility. You have to show how and where you make an impact and give proof of engagement."
Platforms might contain a variety of means of communicating with perspective readers: your e-mail newsletter list, website traffic, high-profile reviews, testimonials from A-listers in your genre.
"A lot of people confuse platform building with marketing, promotion, and publicity," Friedman says. "While those types of activities can build your platform, let’s be clear: being an extrovert on social media will not, by itself, lead you to a platform that interests publishers."
The methods to building a platform are countless. Writers from across the world are invited to learn more in a live Zoom chat with the Writers Publishing Exchange, a (usually monthly) meeting of aspiring authors.
Would you like to share some Writers Publishing Exchange convenes once monthly to help aspiring authors discover the business side of publishing to attract the best agent and publisher. The WBE is open to writers nationwide. Seasoned publishing experts and veteran authors help us to produce the necessary elements before publication:
A spinoff critique group will consider short pieces and book-length works.
Want to join in person or by Zoom? Want to speak to us about your successes or foibles? Contact me, Nichole L. Reber.