An Interview with Diana Flegal of Hartline Literary Agency

by Elizabeth Griffin

EG: In your career of working with books and authors, what has been the highlight—e.g., working with specific authors or on specific projects?

DF: Truthfully, I enjoy all aspects of working with writers; the fledgling and the accomplished. I particularly enjoy brainstorming fiction plot developments and nonfiction chapter outlines and book titles. Hanging out with such creative minds always infuses me with high energy. It is a total rush to hold a book in your hands you have played a role in getting to market that contributes to honest and worthy conversations.

EG: Why do you come to conferences like our Northwest Christian Writers Renewal— what do you like about them? What is the best way to approach you at an event?

DF: I enjoy meeting and speaking with the conferees. The various ways a writers mind entertains a thought amazes me. Even on similar topics, they come at them with such unique perspectives.

The best way to approach me is first as a fellow word lover, then, as one who might have a helping word. I tend to shy away from the one who believes they heard from God I am to represent their writing. If God has told you that, keep it to yourself, and let God tell me. Then we will both be delighted at the prospect of working together.

EG: How do you interact with authors whom you represent? Can you explain briefly the process you go through of preparing and selling their book to a publisher?

DF: My clients and I go back and forth polishing their proposals in an attempt to answer ahead of time any questions a publisher might have in regarding the merits of their title. In the midst of that process, I will prepare a list of publishers looking for a book of its genre, and prepare a query letter which I will tweak to each publisher’s unique list. When it is ready to go, I will place it on five to six desks simultaneously, and we will wait three months max to hear back from them. At the 1½-month period, I will make a phone call or frame a nudge e-mail. Though it is rare, a submission can end up going astray or into a spam folder. If we have received any helpful rejection letters, or an offer to make a change and come back to them, my client will rewrite, and we will then begin a second round of submissions, hopefully resulting in a sale. The one exception is for “requested by a publisher titles.” I will follow up on those in two weeks with a phone call.  In the waiting, we will work on various ways to further develop my clients platform and career. I will send them opportunities I learn of for them to contribute to anthologies, or write and submit an article on an area of their expertise.

EG: Anything about your personal life you care to share that helps us get to know you and feel more comfortable?

DF: I am an encourager and caregiver on personality assessments. I stick with my clients through many ups and downs, longer than many other agents might. I no longer question if this is a negative in this line of work. I believe I am where God has placed me. Though this business is challenging in this present economy and political environment, I am grateful to work in the CBA and ABA publishing markets.

Diana Flegal has been an agent with Hartline Literary Agency for eleven years. She represents mainstream and inspirational titles, fiction and nonfiction, but nothing that conflicts with the Christian worldview. She is currently looking for nonfiction authors who have a substantial platform, as well as outstanding contemporary women’s fiction, issue fiction, and formula romance. When she is not reading submissions or stealing away with a recreational read, she is hiking in the mountains or kayaking the many lakes of her home state, North Carolina.

Please bring the following to your appointment:

  • A one-sheet that includes a tagline, back of the book blurb, and short bio
  • A synopsis if fiction, or a chapter outline if nonfiction
  • A list of the social media you are currently using and the number of followers for each one
  • Your marketing strategy (what you plan to do to help promote and market your book)
  • The first chapter of your manuscript
  • A notebook and pen/pencil

Diana will teach two workshops at the Renewal this year:

First Lines and Great Beginnings – This is a fun and interactive class where first line and opening page examples will be shared in a safe and friendly environment. Fellow conferees will be asked to honestly express if they would read on. Suggestions will be offered to improve the chances a reader would read on.

The Agent Author Relationship – Do I need an agent? If so, when do I need one? What does an agent do? And…what should I do that an agent won’t? Understanding the relationship between the author and agent is paramount to a successful career. In this class, you will learn what to expect and what is expected of you as an author. A Q&A time will end the workshop and a writer’s resource list will be offered.

To request an appointment with Diana and also attend her workshops, be sure to register soon for the Renewal.

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In addition to writing and editing a monthly lifestyle newspaper for 10 years, Elizabeth Griffin elizabeth_griffin2has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, along with the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories of redemption. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 16 years. Her recent adventures include directing communications for an international missions group and public relations for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and blogging at Follow the Dots.

Porters Bring Bold Vision to Conference

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference

PortersPreparing to pitch your proposal for the first time at a conference can be daunting. And if you knew that an editor at this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal was a frequent guest on radio and TV programs and contributed to national magazines—accomplishments that describe Karen Porter of Bold Vision Books—you might be especially nervous. But the title of one of Karen’s books, I’ll Bring the Chocolate, just might take the edge off your nervousness. After all, can someone who loves chocolate be all that intimidating?

One event planner reports that Karen “is a people person, plain and simple. After you meet her, you will quickly discover that her joy is not only genuine, it is absolutely contagious!”

Meanwhile Karen’s husband, George Porter, co-owner of Bold Vision and a science teacher for more than 23 years, brings the scientific world to life in his writing, Bible teaching, and presentations to help his audiences embrace the God who made us all.

Together they make an unbeatable husband-and-wife publishing combination.

At this year’s conference, Karen will present two workshops:

How to Tell It Funny1) How to Tell It Funny – Discover how to add wit, humor, and winsomeness to your writing and speaking. No one can make you funny, but you can learn to lighten up, and this workshop will help you discover the methods that will add a new dimension to your communication.

Marketing for Writers and Speakers2) Marketing for Writers and Speakers – Marketing techniques and methods have changed drastically with the emergence of the Internet. The information and advice you’ve read might already be out of date. Marketing expert Karen Porter will help you define your personal style and brand. From tag lines and mission statements to web presence in blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, you will learn how to market your message, your speaking ministry, and your book. Karen will help you build a toolbox of practical, useful, doable methods. You will leave this session with a personal plan.

Maximize Your Book TableGeorge will present a workshop on how to Maximize Your Book Table. Did you know you can have a back-of-the-room book table even if you don’t have a book yet? In this workshop, George will show you how to pick out and buy products. He’ll give you display hints, bundling ideas, info on credit cards, and much more, all based on his experience in managing an extensive book table with good organization and time-saving tricks of the trade.

Both George and Karen serve as acquisitions editors for Bold Vision Books. Here are proposals they’ll be looking for at the Renewal:

  • Well-crafted nonfiction manuscripts with a timeless message told in a fresh, new way, using story techniques and strong Scripture backing
  • YA fiction (no fantasy) for young teens
  • For their Nuts ‘N’ Bolts line: ideas for craft books for the arts and business; “how to” materials, such as teaching, writing, speaking, painting, acting, business principles, productivity, or time management

Karen serves on the Board of Directors and national teaching staff of CLASSEMINARS, Inc., providing training of Christian leaders and speakers. She also serves as president of the board of AWSA (Advanced Writers Speakers Association) and on the Board of Directors of First Place 4 Health, as well as being an advisory director for Fruitful Word Ministries. Her seventh book is Speak Like Jesus: How the Speaking Techniques Jesus Used Can Change Your Presentations.

George is a graduate of Texas A&M University and has done graduate work in physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, and cell biology at Baylor College of Medicine. He served as a combat medic and paratrooper in Vietnam and as a bacteriologist in the Surgical Research Unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in projects involving the treatment of burn patients. As a teacher in both public and private schools, George served as curriculum team leader and on campus site-based committees. He judged Science Olympiads, implemented pilot curriculum on drug awareness in cooperation with Baylor College of Medicine, and coached tennis teams.

To hear the Porters speak or to request appointments with them or with one of the other five editorial representatives at the conference this year, register today.

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and coauthor of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Lynnette Bonner Conquers the Indie Publishing Jungle

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Because of Lynnette Bonner’s unique upbringing, one might almost think she was destined to forge a new path as an independent author.

She began life in Malawi, Africa, where her parents were missionaries. She learned to speak Chichewa (Chee-chay-wuh) fluently, climbed acacia trees, sampled fire-braised termites, and ran through tall, crisp grasses playing “cows” with her young African friends.

From fourth grade on, she resided at a Kijabe, Kenya, boarding school during each curricular term. When she came to the US to attend college, she met a young man who had grown up “in the sticks of Idaho. That’s just about as close as you can get to African ambiance and still be on US soil,” she says. That man is now her husband, Pastor Marty Bonner.

LynnetteBonnerPinableAfter Lynnette finished her first novel in 2000 and submitted it to many publishers and agents, a small e-book publisher finally offered her a contract and released her book. Then the company promptly went out of business. By that time she was homeschooling her two oldest kids, had a toddler, and then gave birth to her fourth child.

“I told the Lord the book was in his hands,” she says, admitting she was pretty sure he already knew that. She also determined that if God had given her the story just to help her through those tough, stressful years, she’d try to be content.

“But I kept asking him to direct my steps where the book was concerned. I specifically remember praying that if the Lord wanted this book to be published, he would need to ‘drop a publisher in my lap’ because I didn’t have time to shop it around again.”

Several years later, a small press—the first she’d submitted to in seven years—eagerly picked up the book, and Lynnette was on her way.

Eventually she realized that she could be even more effective if she became an “indie” author—a writer who publishes independently instead of with traditional publishers. That decision encompassed much more than mere self-publishing. It involved every step of the process: writing, editing, proofreading, layout, cover design, marketing, and even legal concerns, such as acquiring each book’s ISBN number.

Perhaps adapting to a new culture when she came to the US as a young adult helped Lynnette acquire the skills she’d need years later for negotiating the jungles of independent publishing.

She has been successful in her endeavors. To date, Lynnette has indie-published ten books. At the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, she will share the secrets she has learned.

An Overview of Indie Publishing-1) An Overview of Indie Publishing: Nothing Less than the Best (Friday, May 15) – What exactly is indie publishing? How is it accomplished, who is best suited to go that route, and what’s the best way to go about it? Let’s talk about print and e-book formatting that shines, and much, much more.

Making Your eBooks Work for You2) Making Your E-books Work for You (Saturday, May 16) – Learn about the many passive marketing techniques you can incorporate into your e-books to make them work harder for you. We’ll talk about the first things all successful indie authors need to have in place, along with other verified marketing techniques proven to work for the instructor and many of her indie author friends. If you have an e-book you want to take to the next level, this is the class for you.

Lynnette’s latest book, Song of the Surf, will be awarded to every qualified person who enters this year’s Grand Prize Contest. Don’t miss your opportunity to win a free ten-page manuscript critique by our keynote speaker, Angela Hunt, along with an e-book copy of Lynnette’s newest Christian romance.

To learn timely insights about indie publishing, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

Extravagant Subsistence: Restocking the Writer’s Shelves (and Soul)

 

Leslie with fishOur freezer is nearly empty. We’ve eaten all of last year’s fish and meat, which constitutes a near emergency. Tomorrow I’ll close my computer, ignore my writing deadlines and head back out by bush plane and boat to an island in the Gulf of Alaska where I’ve worked in commercial fishing with my family for 35 years.

We were so busy with the commercial season this summer we didn’t have time to put up our own fish for the winter, the wild salmon that will feed us luscious Omega-3 saturated flesh weekly through a long season of dark.

We also harvest berries, venison, halibut and sometimes caribou. Putting up our own food stores, which goes by the shorthand term “subsistence,” is a normal and necessary part of most people’s lives in rural Alaska.

“Subsistence” is defined as “The action or fact of maintaining or supporting oneself at a minimum level.” In Alaska, however, where a subsistence lifestyle is as common as wool socks, it’s evolved into almost the opposite concept. We don’t hunt and fish and grow and harvest simply to live—we engage in subsistence to live well.

We have access to cellophane-wrapped factory-farmed meat like everyone else—but it is expensive, saturated with antibiotics and hormones, and has been shipped a very long way to get here. We prefer to harvest wild-grown meat from our own piece of the land and sea. It’s one of the reasons we live here.

This last week I began another kind of subsistence:

I started re-reading Gilead, Marilynne Robinson’s wise and extraordinary novel. Her profound musings on the worth of life, as spoken through John Ames, an elderly pastor, remind me how empty my writer’s pantry has become.

The authors who have sustained me through the decades—Frederick Beuchner, Annie Dillard, Richard Wilbur, Eugene Peterson, Walter Brueggeman, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Emily Dickinson—have become strangers of late supplanted by blogs, social media, and research for other writing projects. These are all quick, short reads full of good information, but I’ve been achingly hungry without knowing it.

I realize that my writing life is little different than my food life. I’m often so busy on the commercial end of the work—the marketing, creating the next book proposal, the social media—that I forget to do the real subsistence work. While I’m as tempted as anyone else to spend my time feeding on strategies to garner audiences and master social media, ultimately, I’ll starve on such a diet.

“Fifty-seven Ways to Grow Your Platform,” while helpful, will do little to awaken mystery, stir my imagination, provoke paradox, unearth wisdom, deepen my humanness, all of which is why I began to write in the first place. I realize if I maintain a steady diet of techniques, I’ll soon be setting an impoverished table for not only myself, but also for my readers, who come themselves needing sustenance.

Subsistence work is not easy. Rather than grabbing cellophane packages of meat and fish from the meat counter, I have to go out into boats, I have to use knives and muscles, I have to cut off heads, pull out guts, spill real blood.

It’s a physical engagement with the material world. Reading the best writers is not unlike this. It takes more effort to read longer works. Blood will be spilled there as well as we wrestle with the deepest, hardest and most profound stories of dying and living. But this is how we will subsist and be sustained as writers for a very long time.

When I sit down to my first meal of grilled salmon this winter, I will remember where it came from, how it felt in my hands. I will be so well-fed, I will want to write about it, and will set the table for others to join me in the feast. I hope my work will feed others as well as I have been fed myself. With some labor, and yes, some blood, it can happen.

What kind of reading are you returning to for “extravagant subsistence”? How can we make more time for this kind of reading (and for sustaining physical labor)?

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Leslie Leyland Fields is the author of 8 books, including The Spirit of Food, Surviving the Island of Grace, and her forthcoming book, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers. She lives in Kodiak, Alaska and is a national speaker and a contributing editor for Christianity Today magazine.

Click here to visit Leslie’s website.

Authors: Are You Overlooking Your Hidden Profit Opportunities?

NCWA blog welcomes Tony Marino! Tony will be our main speaker for the February meeting. See end of post for links.

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tony marino picEver heard of  “Back-End Selling?”  You may think of it as follow through, or maybe VALUE added. Both are good terms. Let’s take a quick look and see just how you can profit from this idea.

For our purpose today, let’s just key in on the benefits of “Back-End Selling.”  “Back-End Selling” is simply the SELLING you do AFTER the first sale. Your profits come primarily from repeat business rather than from the initial (first order) sale of your product or service.

Your greatest COST (accumulated expenses) is in the FIRST sale. This is certainly true in most cases. How long did you have to work before that first sale? Did it take you ten minutes or ten years? All the time this customer was NOT buying from you there was still the overhead to shell out.

Obviously, some high-ticket items can absorb the cost and still be profitable. You only need the one sale from a customer. However, we could probably agree that most items that we sell or buy are of a more moderate dollar value. Meaning the profit return comes from the repeat customer.

Have you ever known a razor company to give away the razor? Why? The profit is in the blades! It’s happening today on the Internet. Computers are getting cheaper and cheaper. Even free when you sign up for a service. Sometimes a company will giveaway or “loan” a machine to a customer because the profit is in the supplies. This is known as “back-end” selling.

You have the challenge to find your “back-end!”  How can you make more sales to the same customer? Sell more of the same product? Service? Can you offer an add-on? Related items? It can even be something entirely different. Put another way, just keep selling “something” to the same customer. Your best source of new or continuing revenue.

Many firms stop with the one (1st) sale and never realize the added profits they are leaving behind. YOU would never let this happen. On the other hand, maybe it would just be a good exercise for all of us, to ASK yourself, am I selling everything I possibly can to ALL of my current customers? Hits hard, doesn’t it?

Think about it! You have been successful in making that first sale. Why? Our basic assumption is that you have earned their confidence. Trust. You have lived up to your promises. Your product or service has met or exceeded their expectation. It’s only natural to believe that you will live up to this same level of competence in the future.

Search for your “USP” (Unique Selling Proposition). What is it that makes YOUR firm stand out from the pack? Are you REALLY any different? Do you offer something special that only YOU can provide? This is what separates the great businesses from the also ran. You have to be unique. Different! A visionary. Added VALUE is every customer’s expectation today.

Your next challenge is to find as many “back-end” products/services as you can. There is no better customer than one who has already done business with you. YOUR greatest business asset is your customer; without him/her there is no business.

Secret Online Up-Sell Technique:

If you are operating an online business, you may want to simply add (embed) an “up-sell” product right inside your “Thank You” page.

Let’s face it, your new customer has just made a purchase from you and you can rest assured that they do in fact understand the value of this freshly purchased product and/or service. Furthermore, trust in you by your new client has been realized. Capitalize! “Why not get it while it’s hot?”

Over time, check the added increase to your bottom-line. Chances are, you will undeniably discover a significant positive difference.

Key Point:

Treat your customer like “Gold!” Look for new products to compliment your initial sale. Separate yourself from the plain and ordinary. Be a crucial source of information. Make suggestions. Offer unlimited assistance. Work hard at keeping every customer happy. After all, they are your most valuable business asset. PERIOD!

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Click here for details regarding Tony’s February appearance at the NCWA meeting.

Tony Marino is a husband and father and is the founder of  Christian Discipleship Ministries International, Christian  Times Online, and Trinity Web Works. He is the founder and Executive Producer of the Alive In Christ Radio Network. 

 He has represented acclaimed authors Mark Victor Hansen, Jack Canfield, James Robison, Dr. James Dobson, Ted Nicholas, Jerry Jenkins, Luis Palau, Beth Moore, and Joyce Meyer.

 Tony proudly and honorably served in the U.S. Navy and is a Summa Cum Laude graduate from Colorado Technical University and an inductee into the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society for Business, Management, and Administration. He has actively and passionately served the body of Christ for over 15 years as a worldwide evangelist, teacher, discipler, author, Christian music artist, international business and marketing consultant, and as an international Christian radio program host and Executive Producer. www.trinitywebworks.com

Interview with Chip MacGregor, Tiffany Colter, and Jim Rubart

We at Author Haven are pleased to bring to our readers the following important interview with Chip MacGregor, Tiffany Colter and Jim Rubart.

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> Author Haven: What is it about The Master Seminars that is different from other events?

Chip MacGregor: Most conferences are big group affairs, where you’re sitting next to a couple hundred other writers, and the content is geared for a mass of people. If you have any contact with the instructor, it’s either for a few rushed minutes after the workshop, or at a crammed table in a noisy cafeteria. At our seminars, we just put together a small group. The content is geared to each person’s unique situation. And you’re together with a publishing professional for two days — nearly nonstop. A writers’ conference is a great time, but we wanted to offer something that is really a different experience. Smaller, more focused, much more personal. And while many writers leave a big conference with some good memories and a notebook jammed with pages, we expect each participant will leave with a new plan mapped out, knowing exactly what they’re going to do differently in the future.

> Author Haven: How did the two of you decide to put something like this together?

Chip MacGregor: Jim Rubart is a longtime marketing consultant. He’s run big campaigns and small plans, helped with radio and TV, and has created all sorts of stuff for online marketing. I’ve spent the last few decades in the publishing business, and have a pretty solid reputation for knowing about books and writing. Jim came to me when he wanted to write his own novel, and that led to the two of us working together. (His first novel, ROOMS, releases with B&H in a few months.) It became clear as we began working together that we both enjoyed talking books and marketing, but we were also both a bit frustrated at the lack of good marketing we saw being created for fiction. So we began talking, and the fiction marketing seminar came out of our discussions.

> Author Haven: Do you have testimonials from attendees?

Tiffany Colter: Yes, I’ve included two from our fall seminars on marketing. Your readers may recognize these authors.

“I attended the marketing seminar in Indy in December 2009. It truly was the single most important investment I’ve made in my career to date. Through the sessions and the discussions I was able to hone in on specific areas where my marketing strategies fell short…like my website. The instruction time was invaluable–I’ll never forget some of the things I learned, and I believe those tips will have long-term impact on my success. The hours the group spent focusing on each writer individually was an unbelievable luxury. How often does an author get to sit in a room with half a dozen other successful authors, a marketing guru, and the number one literary agent, with the focus completely on her work for an hour or more? I’ve also been so blessed to have maintained strong and continually developing friendships with several of those wonderful authors. And the best part? I signed on as Chip’s client a few weeks after the seminar. Life-changing.”

-Nicole O’Dell, author of the Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series, www.nicoleodell.com

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“The Master’s Seminar on Marketing was exactly what I needed as I prepare for the release of my first trade novels after eight category novels. The teaching was top-notch, but the personalized attention and brainstorming about me and my brand were challenging and exciting. I left with all kinds of ideas bouncing around my mind and the energy to tackle them. I highly recommend this seminar for authors who are ready to take the next step and make an investment in their career.”

Cara Putman, author of Stars in the Night and 8 other novels, www.caraputman.com

> Author Haven: Okay, let’s talk about branding. Tell us some of the ways a writer can establish a brand.

Chip MacGregor: I think most people completely misunderstand the notion of branding. They confuse it with having a slogan. A “brand” is something that’s reflected in your writing and personality — not something you put on. You live out your brand as much as you create it. In our seminar, In our seminar, I tell people that a brand is a promise made by an author. When you write regularly, you make a promise to readers that you will always provide them with your voice, your themes, your messages. You establish a brand by making those promises clearly, then by regularly supporting those promises every time you communicate with readers.

Tiffany Colter: I think this is a really important issue. I can tell you that as an author myself, I didn’t fully understand what branding was until I spent some time talking to Jim Rubart. I saw it as a slogan. I was trying to make myself like Nike, “Just Do It”. It never seemed to resonate. The way Chip explains it here combined with what Jim told me at our first Master Seminar in Dallas not only changed the way I looked at branding, but I’m also able to integrate that “promise” Chip refers to into all of my stories.

> Author Haven: What expectations for promotion are placed upon a writer who signs a book deal and how much will the publisher take on?

Chip MacGregor: Every publisher expects an author is going to participate in the marketing… what writers sometimes don’t understand is that the author is IN CHARGE of the marketing. Who knows the book better — the author or the publisher? Who has the most enthusiasm for the book better — the author or the publisher? Who has the most at stake — the author or the publisher? When you think through it carefully, you quickly discover that it’s the AUTHOR who needs to feel the responsibility for marketing. In fact, the publisher is expecting the author will market the book hard and help them sell copies.

The problem with that is that most authors aren’t trained as marketers. And they just want to be WRITERS, not publicists. I sympathize with that notion, but the reality is that releasing a book and selling it for profit makes this a BUSINESS — and you can’t simply leave all your business details to someone else, in hopes they will do a good job for you. So you assume the publisher will do SOME things, but not EVERY thing. What I try to help writers see is that they need to first clarify what the publisher is going to do, then figure out what else needs to be done, then either DO those other things or make sure someone else is doing them. Again, that may not be fair, but… this is art. When has it ever been easy to make a living at art?

> Author Haven: What’s the best use of an author’s resources in promoting a book?

Chip MacGregor: In my view, the effective use of the internet is the best thing most authors can invest in. Most of it is free to access, you don’t have to leave home to do it, and it relies on words — the very thing a writer is skilled at. Now, the core of marketing has always been simple — figure out where your customers are (for a writer, that’s your readers), then go stand in front of them. So the BEST thing an author can do, in my opinion, is to spend time researching where their readers are, determining some methods for getting in touch with those potential readers, and then following through with the hard work of marketing to those readers.

> Author Haven: Do you recommend paying for a blog tour? Some of them can cost upwards of $500.00.

Chip MacGregor: Actually, I’ve seen marketing consultants charge up to $5000 for them, and it’s not unusual at all to see them charge $1500. Should an author pay that? It depends… I would tell you that just about any good writer with some time on his hands, a computer, and the willingness to work hard, can set up a blog tour. So no, most authors should not pay someone to do it. But if you don’t have the time, or need to spend it on other marketing ventures, then perhaps hiring a freelancer to do it might make sense.

> Author Haven: Should a fiction writer pay for radio, print or online ads?

Chip MacGregor: Let’s be clear about something… “Advertising” is marketing that’s paid for. “Publicity” is marketing that’s free. Anytime you are paying for something, you want to make sure you’re really doing it the right way, and getting a fair deal. So that means you might want to work with a professional to help produce print or audio ads, as well as to get help placing them. Be wary of people over-promising you things — the fact is, there’s very little that can be guaranteed in this business. Even full-page ads in a major newspaper (something beyond the means of most authors) can’t guarantee to pull in readers and sell copies of your book.

Now, having said all that, I think we’re going to see many more online ads this year. People have figured out that online ads are cheap, so they’re buying them. But understand that buying ads in the wrong location won’t help you one bit. And putting a BAD ad in front of thousands of people will only have the reverse effect — it will turn people away from your book. So if you’re going to do this, at least start with some professionals who can assist you. Radio ads have been one of the most underused marketing venues for books, and that can be a very effective method — but you’ve got to be careful, or you can spend an inordinate amount of money on something with a small return.

> Author Haven: How much should a first-time author do to market a book while still writing it?

Chip MacGregor: You’ve got to have a good product first, before you can market it. You’ve got to have a good book first, before you can publicize it. So write the best book you can FIRST. Worry about the marketing later. Having said that, once the book is contracted and turned in, you need to educate yourself on the basics of marketing. Two common mistakes I see are writers who seem to be trying to sell me something even though they don’t even have a book written yet, and authors who seem to think they’re artists and therefore above marketing, so they don’t make the effort to learn how they can support their books.

> Author Haven: What does the move toward e-books and POD mean in terms of opportunity for writers?

Chip MacGregor: The advent of ebooks means there are suddenly going to be a million more opportunities for writers — but it also means there is the possibility of seeing a million bad books. We’re going to see an explosion of companies creating ebooks, and everything about the industry will probably change. So I think it’s going to be easier than ever for someone to print their book, leave it conspicuously on their kitchen counter, and say to guests, “Have you seen my book?” Unfortunately, that means we’re bound to see a lot of really bad books… and it will make it even harder for a GOOD book to get noticed.

Tiffany Colter: We had some questions that were specific to marketing so I asked one of the Master Seminar Speakers, Jim Rubart, to chime in. Jim is the owner of Barefoot Marketing and has over 2 decades of marketing experience. He teaches our ‘Marketing Your Fiction’ seminar. The next will be March 19-20 in Nashville, TN.

>Author Haven: How important is marketing using the internet versus other more traditional ways?

Jim Rubart: These days the internet is critical. When you meet someone in person and they interest you, what’s the first thing you do when you get home? Look up their Website and/or blog. Websites have become business cards on steroids. And that Website had better intrigue the person enough for them to go to other parts of your internet presence; blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

>Author Haven: And what medium within the internet seems to have the most luck:  blogs, Websites, Face book, Twitter, and other such sites?

Jim Rubart: For me the jury is out on Facebook because most people are using it wrong with regard to marketing. To be blunt, most people are boring and their posts will only interest their close friends, not new friends. Same thing with Twitter. But if used well, Facebook and Twitter can drive people to a blog where a more in-depth relationship can develop.

>Author Haven: How can writers drive more traffic to their blogs?

Jim Rubart: Be fascinating. I’m serious. As my agent (Chip) says, “Great writing will be discovered.” So if you write consistently intriguing posts, people will tell people will tell people. But how do you speed up the process? Simple. Post fascinating comments on other people’s blogs. DON’T make your comments a commercial for your blog. If your comments are interesting, people will click on your name to find out who this person with the wisdom is. And if they like what you have to say, bingo, you’ve got another reader. All marketing is word of mouth in one form or another. Make sure you’re giving out content people will want to spread.

From Tiffany:

We are very happy that Author Haven has allowed us to make some big announcements. First, some background. Since we announced the launch of the Master Seminars last fall many people asked about CD teachings, Video Streaming, and other ways to get the content of the Master Seminars at home. Our goal is to help develop writers who will have the strength of craft to get noticed by editors and the strength of marketing to get noticed by readers. Every seminar we put together has that goal in mine. People who attend our seminars have many positive things to say, but we want to reach out to writers who can attend as well as those who cannot. So we will be releasing a few products, and the first one is free:

“30 things you’ll need to know in order to make a living at writing” is a CD teaching that will be available FREE OF CHARGE to every person who registers for a 2010 seminar by February 28. This CD teaching offers Chip MacGregor’s wisdom on this crucial topic. Chip has been a full-time writer, editor, professor, publisher with Time-Warner and a top literary agent. He will share tips drawing not only on 30 years of experience, but also his inside information on how to continue to make a living as a writer in this changing market. For everyone who has already registered for a seminar, your CD will be sent to you as soon as it is completed. For those of you considering a Master Seminar, now is the time to register. We have six seminars in six cities covering three topics between now and July, so there are many opportunities to attend a workshop. We do not have immediate plans to sell this CD. It is a gift to our attendees

The next big announcement is that we now have discounts for Alumni or people who want to attend multiple seminars. The first seminar is regular price and additional 2010 seminars are only $299. If you’d like to RETAKE the same seminar you will save even more. If you retake the same seminar in another city you’ll pay only $149! Go to www.TheMasterSeminars.com and click on the city of your choice. You will be directed to a registration page where you can take advantage of these rates.

Finally, we will soon be releasing audio lessons as well. These will not be the more than 16 hours of personalized instruction you receive at a Master Seminar, but they will be lessons full of practical knowledge that will help you advance your writing career.

We have some new topics (like writing great proposals) and visits to cities in the planning stages. Make sure you are on our contact list to find out more. And if you have a suggestion for a topic you’d like to see us cover, or if your group would like to know about having one of our masters speak at your group or writer’s conference you can contact me, Tiffany Colter, at Command Performance Speakers’ Bureau. www.TheMasterSeminars.com or 734.474.5489.

For email updates subscribe to our update newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/gnhx

Thanks, again, for letting us share this news with your readers.

Interview by Janalyn Voigt, author of DawnSinger, book one of Tales of Faeraven, to release with Port Yonder Press

Janalyn Voigt (WaySinger)

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Reposted from Author Haven

This blog posting is courtesy of Northwest Christian Writers Association member, Janalyn Voigt. She has been a member of NCWA since September of 2008. At our March 1 meeting Janalyn mentioned that she had sold her first novel, in part as a result of her blogging.

At the end of this blog is a special offer on a CD, “30 things you’ll need to know in order to make a living at writing.” The deadline for that special offer has already passed, but Tiffany Colter has graciously extended it for the reposting of this entry. The deadline for readers of this blog has been extended to Thursday, March 11.

Janalyn normally blogs at http://authorhaven.blogspot.com/ Thanks to her for allowing us to repost this.