Monthly Archives: December 2006

Merry Christmas

Have a merry Christmas and happy new year.

I, and this blog, will be back from our holidays early in the new year.

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The J K Rowling Scale

If you are an author and you’ve not yet been compared to J K Rowling, I want to know.

“But J K Rowling was rejected by many publishers!” they say. Or, “You know J K Rowling’s first advance was very small.” Or even, “J K Rowling sat in those cafes writing away, and little did she know then how successful she’d be.”

So, your well-meaning friends place you on a lower rung of what I call The J K Rowling Scale. Please reject it right away.

If you’ve already won against the odds and collected a file full of rejections as well as a publishing contract, you’ll know what a lottery it is. And the lottery doesn’t stop there. You might lose out in the great cover art lottery. Your publisher may not be willing or able to promote. You may not get great distribution.

You probably almost certainly will not get that Hollywood film deal.

The marketing savvy author takes a realistic view about what’s achievable given the constraints and circumstances, and sets realistic and achievable goals.

If you go out of your way to market your books you almost certianly will sell more than your publisher is expecting. You will have achieved a success which no one can take away from you. Don’t let them keep telling you you’re still not J K Rowling. Be who you are and be glad that you’re doing what once you dreamed about.

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Author interviews

There are more author interviews about book marketing coming in January 2007, including Bernardine Kennedy, Roger Morris and Daisy Dexter Dobbs.

In the meantime have a great Christmas.  In theory, next week I’ll should be in the Tatra mountains and ski-ing. Except that there’s a distinct lack of snow in Europe at the moment.

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Debate: Social networking websites, useful for authors?

I can’t seem to open a marketing magazine at the moment without reading about social networking websites. But are they useful for authors? And for what? Networking with potential readers or within the trade? Which are the best sites?

I’m on MySpace, and I’m also a member of asmallworld and pelime, both of which are invitation only to join. Pelime has a specific focus on people working within the creative industries and there are dedicated forums to discuss writing and publishing.

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Book cover 5

Now here’s a mystery cover that grabs you by the throat. The feel is up-to-date and sparse. I expect it would be nearly impossible for a mystery buyer seeing this on a table in a book store not to be intrigued enough to pick it up within seconds.

It seems at first that we’ve got so little to go on: a weathered, graveyard angel, a disturbed sky. Yet this is a simple deception in itself and this cover is a very good example of how quickly we can pick up a number of cues without consciously being aware we are doing so.

The font is cleverly reminisant of the kind of raised lettering often seen on tombstones. While the angel suggests peacefulness in death, we see at once the irony as soon as we read the title. The clouds scudding across a changing sky reinforce this tension.

The blues, greys and whites are all cold, yet there is a peep of pink in the sky in the lower right hand corner. And the author endorsement at the very top isn’t in cold white as we might expect, but in green, a colour we associate with nature and life. More intrigue. More tension.

This cover delivers a compelling conflict loaded with mystery, and we’d expect the story to be the same.

Michael W Sherer’s website is here.

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Book cover 4

Jenna Black

Jenna Black’s cover got changed after feedback from a retailer. Yes, this often happens. If you’re interested you can see the old cover here on Jenna Black’s blog.

But let’s look at this cover on its own, since this is the cover the book buyer in the book store will see.

What I like about this cover is it’s cinematic quality. The title is almost painted – big and bold – as if it’s a film poster, not just a book. This gives the impression that here we have a big story. There’s a flag top left alerting us to the fact that it’s “paranormal romance”. Perhaps this is necessary as there is nothing in the cover itself to indicate that is a romance. There’s a woman, some intense-looking eyes and a moon. And further back in the purple background, some dark birds in flight, and a high-rise building. Combined with the title, every cue is that this is a dark tale, full of mystery. The high-rise building says “urban”. The woman intrigues as her eyes are closed and her head held back. We get the impression that her mind is somewhere else entirely.

Purple has a long, historical association with royalty. But here it’s a more contemporary purple: a purple associated with the psychedelic 1960s, associated with music artists from Jimi Hendrix to Prince. This purple warns us that things may not be as they seem. Infused into the darkness of night, it warns us we should be afraid.

There’s a sophisticated veneer to this cover which makes a change from the usual “vampires = blood” cover formulae. However, I find it a little text-cluttered, and this distracts a little from the impact of the imagery. The endorsement (puff) takes up three whole lines.

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Tuesday tips 12

Practical tips for book marketers.

Got a tip? Email me.

Reviews: A UK national newspaper told me today that they get sent 120,000 books a year to review. I’m not exactly sure how many they review but it’s certainly less than 1%. As my husband said, when I mentioned this to him, is “well, it’s effectively another slush pile then, but for published books.” So think creatively when you’re sending copies off for review. Local publications or specialist press might be a better use of your review copies.

Press: Don’t forget that Christmas is down-time for journalists too and deadlines are often brought forward to allow this. So don’t try pitching or press releases over the Christmas and New Year period.

Research: A date for your 2007 diary. I’m speaking on Internet Marketing for Authors in central London on 10th March, at a special session organised by the RNA. The other speaker is book marketing expert, Alison Baverstock.

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