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Newsletter Dated: 8/31/2007 8:48:47 PM
Subject: Soup*s On
Andrea Campbell’s Newsletter
*** Greetings! ***
This newsletter is being sent to you because you are a writer, professional friend of Andrea*s, or a fan and reader of her books. If you are new to the list, welcome. There are a ton of newsletters and e-zines out there to read, thanks for requesting and reading mine.
Have questions, comments, or ideas for future publication? I look forward to your input and hope you will stay around to see new features in every
In this issue:
• From the Author*s Desk
• Crafting the Historical Novel
• Writing - - the life of leisure?
• The Official Nancy Drew Handbook
• Self Pub News Site
*** From The Author*s Desk ***
Summer has been very hectic - - I feel like a rat on a wheel. But I’ve tried to step-up my production, and accomplish some things that had fallen through the cracks. I attended Donald Maass,’ Writing the Breakout Novel week-long workshop in Indiana this summer. I threw away the first 100 pages I took with me, and am itching to get back in the groove.
I’d like to get articles from authors who have multiple projects out there for sale, describing how much they juggle, and how they control their output and demands. I know my own to-do list is crowded because of having to chase down income, and still balance everything with appearances and marketing.
Detective Notebook: Crime Scene Science is now in a new format. A .pdf e-book with real graphics makes this book doubly fun. It’s for ages 10 and up, and includes activities that kids can do at home to collect fingerprints, learn chromatography, and more. Popular with teachers who buy them 20 at a time, this CD allows students to plug in their own copy. Tell your own children’s teachers about it, I have good deals for multiple purchases. Have them e-mail me at: email@example.com
Last issue I told you I started Primate Press, LLC. I did the paperwork online to incorporate, and the e-application made it easy to get my Arkansas tax id as well. I chose a logo next - - a cute graphic of a monkey gymnast going over a bar. Currently I am studying Adobe InDesign, so I can format my own text. Next step will be purchasing ISBN numbers, and deciding on a printer. We’ll probably go overseas because of the color graphics inside. We have four titles scheduled for production over the next year and a half. The first is a hoot! It’s called: Love Monkey: A Tail Tale of Desire, Romance and Intrigue.
This newsletter, the writer of an e-book, Purple Snowflake Marketing, has an article for us about the writing life. I do want to say that this marketing e-book is very thorough. The chapters cover a great swath of material, but the 21 appendices give a reader the ability to reach vehicles for promotion with just the click of a mouse. Highly recommended.
We have an interview with Penny Warner about her Official Nancy Drew Handbook. Penny is one of my favorite writers and we have a lot in common: we both write party books, she writes mysteries, and she likes to compare my writing about Ziggy, my monkey girl, to her writing about raising children. She says, “It’s…nearly the same thing…
I love to e-teach. Back into Publish That Book! How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal That Sells, working with Absolute Write, and enjoying the process once again. This 8-week, in-depth course puts writers through their paces. I start another October 9, so, if you are interested, http://www.absoluteclasses.com/Campbell/publish.htm
*** Crafting the Historical Novel ***
When I agreed to write a historical book inspired by the true story of my ancestor’s capture by Indians in 1780, I had no idea how daunting the research would become. I was accustomed to writing contemporary suspense that required no more than 10 hours of research for each hour of writing. I was soon to discover the historical book would require as much as 30 hours of research for each hour I actually spent writing.
I could not have written this book without the Internet. I first contacted the historical societies in the areas in which Mary was captured and taken. The staff was very willing to help and they spent hours combing their files for information. I researched down to the very basics—at one point, I wrote that a character had “steely gray eyes” only to awaken during the night in a panic over when steel was actually invented. A quick cybertrip to Wikipedia answered my question, and “steely” was removed.
I located a treasure trove of information—a good Shawnee-English dictionary, sites about the way in which the Shawnee lived and traveled during that time period, Colonial web sites, etc. I always made sure I was dealing with a reputable source, and I used McAfee’s Site Advisor to verify the sites were legitimate. Using the web also led me to the discovery of a log cabin that Mary’s brother Sam built in the 1780’s, and to a wonderful lady named JoAnn Weakley, who owns Historical Collinsville near Nashville. She made it her quest to find the cabin, which had been moved out of the public eye in the 1960’s. The result: I will be visiting the cabin this October and the media plans to cover it.
One thing I did not do with my research: I did not ask other authors. I have seen site after site where authors ask each other technical questions and the answers are nothing short of astonishing. I went directly to the experts and verified all the facts at least three times. It was daunting - but well worth it. The book is due out this October, and buzz is already growing!
~ p.m.terrell is the critically acclaimed author of Ricochet, The China Conspiracy and Kickback. Her newest book, Songbirds are Free, has a dedicated web site at www.maryneely.com.
*** Writing - - the life of leisure? ***
Many people see the world of writing as a career of leisure – which is actually opposite to the truth. For one thing, writing is a creative process and, like any artist, writers need the time and energy to craft their work. This includes brainstorming sessions, research, and learning new writing skills. Finding polite and diplomatic ways to get respect can be a big obstacle that most writers will eventually have to face. Office work—from bookkeeping, to recording marketing efforts and its final results, take up a lot of time. So, as a self-employed person, a writer is actually putting in many more hours than regular 9-to-5 demands.
Another author misconception is they think that once their book is written the work ends and the royalty cheques just come pouring in. Again, this is far from the truth. In fact, once the book is accepted by the publisher, goes through the editing and proofing process and is finally released to the public, the author’s work is just beginning. As much as 80% of an author’s time can be earmarked for marketing, and marketing plans typically begin several months prior to the release of a book.
There are many benefits to choosing self-marketing for your own books. To begin, the author has more control over where his or her time and money is spent; they meet readers directly – which can be very rewarding; and have more freedom to choose unconventional approaches toward reaching various audiences. Self-marketing authors also avoid promotion companies who overcharge and provide services that authors can easily do themselves.
We know first-hand, how quickly a promotion budget dwindles, and the difficulty of gaining name-recognition and an Internet presence. Our e-book, Purple Snowflake Marketing, is an author’s guide to developing a frugal and effective marketing plan. We start with the four main areas an author needs to consider including research, evaluating what others do, gaining name recognition, and discovering the strengths and weaknesses of their own situation. Marketing plan development requires research, but can be extremely rewarding. For one thing, it’s important to discover possible obstacles and determine how to diffuse them before the issue arises. Discovering each book’s strengths and weaknesses is a plus. By evaluating others’ success, an author can find a way to promote their book as singular and outstanding. Knowing these four areas helps an author design a highly-tuned marketing plan that makes the most efficient use of time and budget.
Our e-book has nineteen chapters dealing with every aspect of marketing, and offers tips on how authors can stand out like a purple snowflake in a snowstorm. And this is important, because there are approximately 170,000 books released annually in the US alone. Finding a way to stand out among all of these recent releases and backlist titles is possible, and authors don’t need a big budget to accomplish this.
The key to doing this is two-fold. Learning about the person you are contacting and what they need to see from you, saves frustration and reduces rejection. Finding a way to appeal to the audience that the contact serves, is the next consideration. For example, in order to work with the editor of a particular publication or organization, you’ll need to know the right slant, who the readers/members are, and where they are located. With this information you can design your query letter with that market in mind, and greatly reduce the chance of being rejected.
Authors soon learn that rejection and bad reviews are part of the process. How to make contacts and provide what those contacts need, helps get past closed doors. If authors find ways to avoid common pit-falls, and learn the importance of setting a pace for marketing endeavors, his or her marketing plan can last as long as the contract with the publisher. Readers of our e-book will discover all of these topics, as well as how to deal with family and friends who are unsupportive, jealous, or who say they’ll buy a book – but don’t.
There are always surprises and hurtful events for all authors, but learning how to keep expectations on a more realistic level is a good idea.
The next time someone tells you they’ve always wanted to be a writer, just smile. We know that this career is certainly not a life of leisure, but one of commitment and passion for the love of the craft.
~ Lillian Brummet – Host of the Conscious Discussions talk show, author of Towards Understanding; and co-author of Trash Talk and Purple Snowflake Marketing www.myspace.com/canadianauthor or www.sunshinecable.com/~drumit
*** The Official Nancy Drew Handbook ***
Q: You’ve had over 50 books published. How did you get started writing?
A: I never planned to be a writer. I wanted to be a teacher. But when I had my first child, I wanted to stay home. Being around a baby, I had lots of questions that my pediatrician didn’t have time to answer, such as “What are some good toys to make for baby?” and “What are some great birthday party themes for kids?” and “How do I get my picky eater to eat veggies?” With my Bachelor’s in Early Childhood and Master’s in Special Education, I started a parenting group, and found the answers there. I thought, why not write a book and share these ideas with other parents who also need answers. My first book, Healthy Snacks For Kids, was published 25 years ago, and still sells today. I’m amazed!
Q: Did you get an agent or sell the book yourself?
A: I sold the first book on my own, and got a very poor contract, not knowing the business at all. With that publication I was able to acquire an agent and she sold my next few books—all on childcare and parenting—and negotiated decent contracts.
Q: How can you write parenting books and murder mysteries? They’re so different!
A: Well, when my kids became teenagers, I started thinking about murder….
A: Just kidding. I started thinking about writing mysteries because I’d been reading a lot of mysteries by women featuring female detectives and wondered if I could do the same. I wrote two mysteries that never sold before I finally got the third effort published.
Q: How did that happen?
A: After the first two were buried in the backyard, I decided I needed to learn more about the craft of writing. I joined Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, took mystery-writing courses, studied how-to books, and read everything I could get my hands on in the genre. I learned a lot, such as how to create an interesting character, place the story in a fresh setting, and develop an intriguing plot. My first book Dead Body Language, featured a deaf female reporter, was set in the California Gold Country town of Flat Skunk, and featured plots revolving around small town life, deafness, and bizarre crimes. That book won a Macavity Award for Best First Mystery and was nominated for an Agatha award.
Q: How did the Nancy Drew book evolve?
A: My agent knows what I like to write so she’s always on the lookout for something that fits my interests and background. When the Nancy Drew project came up from Quirk Books, she asked if I might want to write a proposal. I whipped out my Nancy Drew notebook and jumped on it.
Q: Do you know a lot about Nancy Drew? Did you have to do much research?
A: Like many girls, I grew up reading Nancy Drew. I was sick with mono for two months in sixth grade and my mother handed me my first one; I was hooked immediately and read them all. When the project came up, I reread all the original books in the series to refresh my memory, gathered clues for the project, and gave the book an authentic feel. I had to do a lot of research on the skills Nancy possesses, such as “How to Tap Morse Code with Your High Heeled Shoes” and “How to Train a Carrier Pigeon,” but that was half the fun. I felt like I was becoming Nancy.
Q: What are your marketing plans?
A: The book comes out in November so I’m gearing up for promotion. I’m having a launch party at my hometown bookstore, sending out “Top Secret” invitations to friends and fans, and passing out “Emergency Flashlight/Whistle Bookmarks” at booksignings. I’ll be speaking at several mystery conferences, such as Love is Murder, Left Coast Crime, Malice Domestic, Sleuthfest, and, of course, the annual Nancy Drew Conference. I’ll demonstrate some of Nancy’s skills, and explain what to keep in your own personal “Sleuth Kit.” Should be fun!
Q: Any words of advice to writers?
A: Find a good agent. How? By attending writers conferences. Listen to them talk, and then send them the best proposal (query, platform/marketing ideas, synopsis/outline, sample chapters) you can. Let them know you’re interested in actively marketing the book by working booksignings, speaking, and sending out flyers.
Q: Any last words?
A: If anyone would like one of Nancy Drew’s Emergency Bookmarks, just email me with your mailing address and I’ll send it along. Likewise, if you have questions about writing or publishing and think I might be able to help, contact me at www.pennywarner.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*** Self Pub News ***
My friend, Tom Nixon, runs this terrific site; check it out and think about it for your next self-published book posting. And subscribe for a steady feed - - there is some good information coming through here quite often:
*** Future Newsletters ***
In upcoming newsletters we will answer reader’s questions, share a new story or two, talk more about publishing, and provide additional writer’s tips. If there is any area of my life or work you would like to discuss, from autopsy to monkeys, just send me a note. Thanks for the read. : 0 )
Copyright©2007 Andrea Campbell If you wish to quote from here, fine, just attribute it to me and my web site.