Which pitch has the most potential? Slush pile, in-person or online contest?

I get asked this question often. Writers want to make the most of their time and talent. Querying is a part in your writing career that is fraught with stress, expectation, and worry–oh wait, this sounds like the entire length of a writing career! Jokes aside, the decisions you make to start your career have a huge influence on the trajectory of it.

So what’s the best way to pitch an industry professional? In person at a conference? In the slush pile? Or in an online contest? 

All of these have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s go over them.

Pitching At A Conference In Person

Advantage: We get to know a slice of your personality (even if it’s only for 10 minutes) and whether we could see ourselves working together. Establishing a personal connection is beneficial for both parties.

Disadvantage: We haven’t seen your material yet! It all depends on the writing. So even if we get along well there is absolutely no guarantee anything will come of it. And if you’re nervous in those 10 minutes we might not get to see the best version of your presentation.

Slush Pile Pitching

Advantage: You can passionately explain why you think an agent is the right fit. You can get lots of advice on how to write the perfect query letter. This targeting is one of the most effective ways of hooking an agent who is right for you. I find more clients in the slush pile than anywhere else. I’d say it’s a 10:1 ratio. For every 10 clients I sign up 10 are from the slush, 1 is from elsewhere.

Disadvantage: Agents get hundreds to thousands of emails a month and you only get one chance to impress them.

Blog Contest Pitching

Advantage: You know you have 3-10 agents actively looking at your material, depending on the contest. There are many success stories floating around from these selective types of events.

Disadvantage: There might be a few agents interested, but often the speed of which the interested agent offers puts off the other agents because we don’t always have time to drop everything and read. Sometimes this speed works out in people’s favor and sometimes it doesn’t. Competition is definitely healthy, but writers have to make a tough decision without the hoopla getting in the way.

Twitter Contest Pitching

Advantage: It happens a few times a year and agents looking to build their list are actively observing it. Plus it makes you practice how to pitch and write a hook in one sentence.

Disadvantage: Agents want to work with authors who select agents for a reason. Writers pitch blindly on Twitter and sometimes the agent that wants to offer rep isn’t on that author’s “top agents” list and there can be bad blood and also a waste of time for everyone when querying would have been a must more beneficial use of time for both parties.

Q: Do you have a success story from one of these methods? (Or, more unfortunately, a horror story?)

4 Tips To Increase Goodreads Book Promotion

bwbooks2Goodreads: everyone’s favourite social book tracking site. What more can you want as an author than to be where the bibliophiles are?

There are many ways to use Goodreads, but from the perspective of an author trying to get the word out you’re in a great place to find your market.


1. Giveaways

Goodreads giveaways are a great way to get early reviews of your book. This sets the tone early. Word of mouth can spread quickly. Organize this with your marketing department and make sure galleys are allotted to this.

2. Paid Advertising

Many writers struggle with the idea of using their own money to promote their book. This is a great way to choose and pay for a package to do your own marketing with your publisher’s assistance supplying graphic designed images–or if you are self-published, on your own.

3. Blog Cross Promotion

You can link your blog through your Goodreads author page so it auto-updates whenever you write a new post. It’s an easy way to make sure your Goodreads author page is another landing page for readers.

4. And most importantly: Adding to “To Read” List

This means emails go out on pub day reminding them to buy! What more can you ask for then that gentle reminder? Everyone that added you to their ‘to reads’ list will be notified.

Q: How do you make Goodreads work for you?

More resources:

Free ebook on Goodreads promotion

8 Ways Authors Can Use Goodreads

The Ultimate Goodreads Guide

Q: Should I have a blog or website or both?

Should I have a blog or website or both?

Blogs are wonderful tools to engage with your readership, however they can get a bit cluttered when it comes time for book promotion and online marketing. If you are going to keep a blog but no website make sure your headers are easy to spot and access and give it a website feel.

If you can do a website and blog I would highly recommend keeping the aesthetic style similar to show continuity and connection. Also, make sure they link to one another so readers can bounce between the two. Or make one the micro site of other.

No matter what you choose, make sure your pages clearly link to your social media sites and you social media sites send people back to your webpage or blog.  Continue reading Q: Should I have a blog or website or both?

How Writers Build Successful Online Communities

A recurring conversation I have with editors and clients is about the importance of building online communities that engage with fellow writers and readers. I bring this up again and again because writers in the earliest stages of their querying and publication process need to know how to navigate this unchartered territory.

Here are 12 reasons why you need to be captain of your digital ship in a big way:
Manage your own brand

First impressions make the difference between someone clicking the ‘buy’ button and someone navigating away from your site. Websites and blogs need to be: cleanly designed; clearly communicate your name, book, the hook, and sales links; have an up to date author photo; link to social media platforms; and be updated frequently. Do not make the mistake of putting something up just to save your domain name. Make it count. Get a fantastic graphic or website designer and never let them go. Be objective: is this an author site you would buy a book from and/or be inclined to find out more?

Increase discoverability of your work (and thus sales)

With smooth linking between Facebook, Twitter and your website/blog you can seamlessly guide readers from one experience to the other and lead them to buy your book. Clunky navigation and unclear purpose leave visitors confused. Some visitors may overlap between your platforms, but some visitors might be unique to each platform. What information do they each need to know? How will each type of visitor be able to find your book? These are the answers:

  1. Good hook
  2. Great cover photo (when it’s available)
  3. Links to e-commerce sites
  4. Links between your platforms to increase engagement
Meaningful relationships

Unique visitors is one way of measuring online success, however editors and marketers are increasingly interested in the community you’ve build in recurring and engaging visitors. How do you keep your readers coming back? Consistent and frequent posting? Are you known for your writing tips? Find out what is making your visitors come back and grow in that space. In time they’ll feel like they’ve grown with you and this leads to communities that promote via word of mouth and feel like they are championing one of their own.

Fan loyalty

Once you’ve secured your visitors and build that community how to you keep them loyal?

  1. Exclusive content
  2. Cover reveals
  3. Pushing information out yourself rather than have your publisher feed the information to you

Again, this makes readers feel like they are on the inside instead of the outside. Everyone wants to be the first to discover a cool new band, right? Think of how new readers are going to discover and promote you in an indie way.

Virtuous circles of engagement

When you learn to engage your fans, deliver what they want, make them feel included and cross promote in the community this brings in new fans. Reward them with exclusivity, bonus content, and contests.

Understand opportunities

Social media is not for broadcasting, it’s about individuals interacting around content that is meaningful to them.  Never forget that. That should be the biggest take away from this post. Take the opportunities to do guest posts and be open to new platforms because you’ll never know which will take off and which will lead to new opportunities and connections.

Continue reading How Writers Build Successful Online Communities