Resumes, Presenting and Marketing

Public Speaking

I never would have thought a few years back that I would need a writer’s resume or a writer’s statement, but I have created both in applying for grants and other opportunities.  I know publishers and agents sometimes want to see them too.

Likewise, I never thought about the need to do book discussions with groups of people and to polish my public speaking skills but now I know that is a key component in growing your audience.   I’m going to have to get comfortable with this.

Today was my first time speaking to a large group (over 50 people) in a long time. I gave a book review/critique on the Maisie Dobbs series for a series of talks our Friends of the Library holds each winter. People seemed to receive it well. (Particularly the few I saw relaxed enough to sleep in the audience.)

I was asked, back in October/November, to do this talk and I agreed, having never read any of the books in the series.  In fact, I leapt at the chance.  I figured this was a great way to put something on my writing resume by presenting about stories and also let people know about my own writing.

I was nervous and yet I wasn’t.  I had been a little nervous in the morning but as I sat there waiting to begin and watching people filter in, I just felt a sort of happy energy.

The reason I had a little case of nerves as I prepared that morning was that so many people had been telling me how much they loved Maisie Dobbs.  I didn’t.

Oh, I enjoyed the historial parts of the books and the writing in general, but there were a number of things that irked me about the characterization and plotting so that I had quite a lot to say.

I was afraid I was in for the wrotten tomatoes, or at least some dirty looks.

But, in the end, several people came up to tell me that I was spot on with my assessment of the books or that they simply really enjoyed my presentation.

I was told by one library volunteer that she enjoyed the talk so much that she forgives me for not loving Maisie Dobbs the way she does.

For those of us who want to break into publishing, I’m afraid this is a necessary skill.  If we are going to publish books, we have to become reasonably comfortable talking to people, small and large groups alike, in order to interest people in our work.  It’s part of the job.  It’s part of marketing.

How to get comfortable?  Two things – preparation and practice.  I spent several days looking up information surrounding my topic and then writing out my comments and marking quotes to read.  I went over it in my mind several times.  With our own writing, that won’t be so difficult but it’s best to still have a script of sorts.  Then, we just have to give lots of talks.

I think doing author talks via the Internet with services like Skype for minimal or no fees will help increase our audience and reach.  I figure, if you can get someone to read your book, you’re on your way.  If they really enjoy it, they’ll tell someone else about it, particularly if they had the opportunity to meet the author and ask us questions.

Growing my audience once I have a book out there certainly seems worth the investment of time to me.

Back when I was studying to be a librarian, I learned to create a two sentence book talk that would hook a student’s interest in reading a book.  I’ve used that numerous times to put a book in someone’s hands.  Someday it will be my book.

Of course, now I’m kicking myself for not handing out business cards for my writing.  I think it’s time to visit Vistaprint.

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Writing Under Fire

Firing

Have you ever had so many thoughts firing off in your brain that you thought it might explode if you didn’t put some of them down on paper?  Then, when you finally get them all out, all you want is a good nap?  Yeah, that’s how I feel today.

There is much going on in the writerly world here this week.  The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes put out a call for applicants to take part in a Business of Art workshop to be held in March.  I think this is a great idea for any writer and something we talk about frequently in my writer’s group.

They will be covering –

  • Portfolio Basics and Presentation Packages
  • Branding, Marketing and Promotion
  • Legal, Insurance and Financial issues
  • Money and Time: Grants, Fellowships, Apprenticeships and Residencies

There will also be time for performances, readings and exhibition.  Application to attend is competitive in the sense that they are only taking ten people in each of three tracks – performing, visual and literary.  I, of course, would like to attend the literary one.

I would really like to be writing for a living in a couple years but I need to grow my audience in order for that to happen.  I’ve already started making a little money from my writing and I need to know how to handle the financial side of things when that grows, both tax wise and other.  I intend to finish Biomalware this year and whether I go the traditional publishing route or e-publish, I will need to work on marketing.

Of course, this all threw me into application mode with re-working my artist’s statement, my writing resume and my statement of intention to attend the workshops.  There’s also choosing which pieces to include in my writing sample.

Then, last night, a few members of my writer’s group got together to work at the local coffee house.  A couple people read some pieces for critique and the poem got me thinking about whether I could write something to read on Saturday.   Of course, just putting that intention out there got my brain going on the idea of writing a poem and, before I knew it, the ideas were hitting me on the head.  I’ve been going all day on a poem that kind of rants about partisan politics.  (It’s something I’m a little fed up with.)  So I think I’ll have something to read on Saturday.

However, there are half a dozen things for work that are really demanding my attention as the deadline is fast approaching.  It’s all a little overwhelming and the idea of a nap is sounding better and better.

I had thought of writing about voice today but that seems like a little more than I can handle so I’ll leave you with this thought.  I just finished an excellent YA novel called Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  The voice was very strong and immediate, told in the first person and spot on.  It’s told from the perspective of a young woman who has been imprisoned by the Nazis and is writing her confession in exchange for less torture.  (I highly recommend it.)

You can either just write and write and let your voice develop, or you can find out what elements affect voice and then deliberately pick the ones you want to create a particular voice.  The first sounds easier but the latter is probably a sign of learning about your craft so that’s something I’ll be working on in the near future.

Sometimes I think the real problem is that I don’t know what I don’t know.

Sometimes I feel like a pretender.  Am I a writer or am I just playing at it?  I know Maya Angelou once wrote much the same.  I feel like putting myself in a class with other writers is somehow being vain.

At the same time, I know what I want.  I want to write for a living.  I want to be a writer.  I am a writer.  I never feel so alive as when I am.

Okay, off to work on my book presentation for Wednesday so I can write late tonight.

May the muse grant you thoughts that fire your neurons in new patterns.

Selling Our Books on Social Media–Don’t Be a Personal Space Invader

Selling Our Books on Social Media–Don’t Be a Personal Space Invader.

A friend sent me this article recently and I just got to read it.  I have to agree.  When I “Like” an author on Facebook it’s to hear their thoughts on a variety of things.  If all I’m getting is posts selling their, and others, books then I am pretty likely to “UN-Like” them.  How about you?

Has anyone read We Are Not Alone – Kristen Lamb’s book on marketing using social media?  What did you think of it?

Book Trailers

My husband pointed out an interesting article to me the other day – How Scott Sigler Used Free Media to Become a Best-Selling Author.   The idea of a book trailer piqued my interest.  Sure, I’d heard of them, seen some even, but I’d never thought of making one of my own.  (Warning – the trailer for his book that is imbedded is rather horror genre gruesome, so don’t watch that if you’re not prepared.  The little video on how the trailer was made is not graphic but has some great music so definitely watch some of that.)

Anyway, most of us don’t have the ability to make our own animated book trailer and if you’re struggling to start a writing career, you don’t have the money to pay for it to be done either.   However, most of us have the ability to take a short film these days.  My little digital camera will take a short video and my husband has a Flip camera that will take extended videos.  Blair Witch Project here we come!

It’s simple, enlist family, friends (and anyone else you can get with free food) to do a very short scene from your story.  Create a Youtube account and make your very own book trailer!  Okay, maybe you don’t know anyone with enough acting skill to even make a really shoddy commercial.  You can still make one.

One of my writer’s group, G.H. Monroe, shared his first attempt at a book trailer for his collection of short stories, That’s My Story!  He used still images and a voice over with music to create a book trailer.  (A word of warning – just make sure the images are your own or in the public domain before you use them.)

There you have it!  DIY book trailers to help get people interested in your books.  I’m definitely going to be trying this myself.