Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ah, ah, ah, ah, Staying Alive, Staying Alive

by Jeffrey S Savage

Sariah posted a great blog on Saturday about one hit wonders. (Or was it one trick ponies? Or one joke Robs?) This got me thinking about the flip side of that record. Let’s say you’ve got lots of books in your head. How do you make sure there is a happy home (translation publisher) for your books?

Rather than do another twenty page blog (I know you love my epistles ;), but just in case) I thought I’d post a few bullets of my own and open it up for discussion.

1) Treat your existing publisher like a valued employer. If you don’t make money for the publisher, they may find someone else to fill your slot down the road. An author who assumes sales are the publisher responsibility is making a big mistake.
2) If your genre is selling, stick with it. Don’t change horses in midstream or change chocolates in mid-bite. Or whatever the analogy you desire. (Okay I’m a pretty bad example here.) Even best selling authors see a decline in initial sales when they change genres.
3) That being said, if your last book did not sell well, feel free to jump to that next horse that just happens to be wading across the stream with you. The publisher knows you can write, so ask them what they suggest.
4) Produce, produce, produce. The more you publish the more your name gets out there.
5) This is a dicey one in our market, where moving from one publisher to another is majorly looked down on, but consider not putting all of your eggs in one basket. Maybe write a national novel along with your yearly LDS.
6) Talk to your publisher/agent/editor about what is selling? How your sales compare to other books by the publisher. If they have any new projects they are looking for. What you can do to promote better. Don’t sit back and assume everything is hunky-dorey.
7) Remember above all else that publishing is a business. While your book is your baby, the publisher has to go out and sell your baby. Anything you can do to make that transition easier is going to give you the best chance of sending more of your babies out into the world.

Just as an aside, I will be teaching my six week writing class in Spanish Fork again this fall. This year we expanded the classes to two hours each. So that’s 12 hours of writing classes for only $45. Oy what a bargain. If you live in the Utah County area and want to sign up, the info is listed here.


At 8/14/2007 3:33 AM, Blogger Jon said...

Despite the fact that I am not a morning person and that I always sleep in on Saturdays, I am going to sign up for your class. (If I can figure out how.)

I look forward to basking in the light of your fountain of knowledge. (Or, um, wait...)

At 8/14/2007 5:23 PM, Blogger Stephanie Humphreys said...

I am too far away from Utah to take your class (as much as I would like to), so please keep posting such informative blogs. I love reading them.

At 8/14/2007 9:14 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Basking in fountains is fun but tricky. Stepahanie, looks like you'd have a pretty long commute, but I'll defitely post the class notes again. In fact maybe I could find a way to podcast it.

At 8/14/2007 10:34 PM, Blogger Josi said...

Excellent points, Jeff--I'll only add a couple:

1--Be nice (this was a hard one for me) but it's important to understand how small the market is. Being nice to everyone will bring opportunities your way and allow people to feel comfortable with you.

2--Network. Go where other writers are and get to know them, get to know their work, having other people's advice, commiseration, and support is priceless. A 12 hour class in Spanish Fork would be a great start for this.

Great blog

At 8/15/2007 11:28 AM, Blogger Rebecca Talley said...

What would you say are the 3-5 most important things a new author can do to promote his/her book?

At 8/15/2007 2:10 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...


Just is just me and I am sure other people would do things differently, but assuming it is your first book, I would list the following as a top 5.

1) Meet and greet as many bookstore employees as you possibly can. Tell them about you and your book. Give them fun background info. Take them some kind of goodies. The store employees are the ones who actually sell your books, so they are the key.

2) At every writing event you do, take a newsletter sign-up sheet. It's hard to have a dramatc effect on sales your first book in the LDS market (unless it is a children's book that you can promote in schools) but you can definitely increase future sales if you build up a big following for your newsletter.

3) My personal experience has been that contests are a waste of time. But reviews do have some value. Get all the reviews you can.

4) Have a web presence. At very least a web site and possibly a blog. I personally think group blogs are a bigger draw than individual blogs, unless you have great content you update often on your own.

5) Write the next book fast. Volume does more than anything else to build up sales.

At 8/15/2007 8:32 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Great advice, Jeff, as always!

Definately write that next book fast! (Not too fast so it's sloppy, but don't put it off.) When I was signing for my first book, promoting it as a series, readers asked when number two would be out. Uh... so I called my publisher and asked when I needed to turn in the second one so that it came out the same time the next year. They said December. It was mid-September. Needless to say, I started setting my alarm at 4:00 a.m.

At 8/16/2007 1:52 AM, Anonymous marlene said...

You guys are point by point giving me exactly what I need to know. Question on web sites and blogs:Do you focus on writing and the book that's just been published, or do you branch out? I guess what I'm really asking is what are the basic objectives that you should work for in a web site or blog? Is it to let people know you? Is it to advertise your book? If you have a secondary interest like gardening, teaching, collecting rocks or stamps do you make that part of it or just fundamentally stick to your writing? How would you define great content?

By the way, I'm with Sephanie H. Have you thought of doing an on-line class or whatever it would be now days--comparable to a home-study class in yester years?

Thanks for all the info. I am working on the suggestions for long distance marketing, and I'm working on getting my web site up soon.

At 8/20/2007 11:58 AM, Blogger Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

I can help you with the podcast if you need it. You just need to record the class, then the editing to make it broadcast ready is all done at home.


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