Members of Texas Authors, Inc., are welcome to post on our blog for other fellow members, or for the general public.
Each blog post will be approved by the website administrator and must not contain promotion of ones book. This is meant as an educational posting program.
By: Chuck Sambuchino | June 1, 2015
Because summer is a busy time for people traveling to writers’conferences nationwide, I am re-running this great 2014 post. Enjoy.
—————- I’ll admit: I was scared to death to live-pitch my book the first time, and I almost didn’t. I figured I was better with words on a page, so I’d just query the agents I met at conferences. I am a huge proponent of pitching your book in person to an agent, though, because it’s incredibly beneficial. Here are seven tips to keep in mind:
Tip #1: If you can get a pitch session with an agent/editor, do it!
Agents get tons of queries every single day, and a good 90% of them come from people who haven’t worked very hard to perfect their craft. Agents know that if you go to conferences, you’re likely in the 10% who have. If you go to a conference and pitch, you’re likely a top 10% writer who has a book close to being worthy of representation. It also gives both of you a chance to meet each other, and that’s invaluable.
(Do you need multiple literary agents if you write different genres?)
Tip #2: If you don’t register in time to schedule a pitch session, get on a waiting list.
Pitch sessions fill up quickly. People get nervous, though, or don’t get their book ready in time, so they cancel often. They shouldn’t, but they do, and this is good for anyone who is on the waiting list.
Tip #3: Figure out what you want to cover during your pitch session.
Don’t memorize a script, but do memorize the points you want to cover. Then you can talk like a normal person about it. And definitely practice talking like a normal person about it to everyone who will listen. The more comfortable you feel when talking about your book, the better your pitch session will go.
Tip #4: Go with other questions in mind.
I speed-talked my way through my first pitch session, because when I’m nervous I don’t ramble– I leave things out. So my pitch was done in less than 30 seconds. After asking me a few questions, the agent requested my full. Then she said, “Do you have any questions for me?” I hadn’t thought about questions for her! I sat there, feeling awkward, said, “Um…. Nope?” then shook her hand and left, with seven minutes of our meeting unused.
Don’t do what I did! Use that time to ask about their agenting style. Ask about the industry. Ask about the process. Ask about craft. Ask questions about your plot. Ask about anything writing related. Chat. See how your personalities mesh. Just don’t leave seven minutes early. You paid for that time– use it.
Tip #5: Don’t cancel your pitch if your book isn’t ready.
When you signed up for a pitch, it was five months before the conference and you thought your novel would be ready, but it isn’t. Don’t cancel your pitch! (Unless, of course, you’ve signed with an agent since then.) If your book isn’t ready, but you’re working hard to get it there, pitch it anyway. When you send a query to an agent and they request pages, you should get it to them within about 24 hours. When you pitch, you have a YEAR to get it to them. A year! So don’t stress that it isn’t completely ready– there’s plenty of time to make it shine. You are pitching to see if the story idea fits with them, if they think its a marketable enough idea that they want to see pages, and if it’s a story that they have the right contacts to sell.
(Can writers query multiple agents at the same agency?)
Tip #6: Your pitch session doesn’t have to be used to pitch.
That ten minutes you’ve signed up for is YOUR TIME. Use it wisely. You’ve bought not only that agent’s (or editor’s) time, but their expertise. And it is expertise in an area they are incredibly passionate about. They want to help you. If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to pitch your book, use that ten minutes in non-pitching ways. Some examples:
• Show them your query letter, and ask for a critique.
• Have the agent read the first pages of your manuscript until they would normally stop. Then talk about what stopped them.
• If you’re about to start a new novel and are wondering which of your ideas are most marketable, pitch them to the agent, and ask which they think would be best to focus on.
Tip #7: Don’t be nervous. Really.
The most important thing: remember that they are just people. It may feel like they’re rock stars, but they’re actually completely normal. And because they are, they just might be a little nervous, too. It helps to remember that when you’re sitting across a table from them.
So the next time you get an opportunity to pitch to an agent or editor, make sure you seize it!
By Thad McIlroy | Oct 05, 2018 | Publishers Weekly
Let’s make metadata great again. Okay, perhaps that’s not the best slogan for my new campaign, but you get my drift. I want some enthusiasm, folks. Metadata for e-commerce has been sitting in the doldrums for too long now, confined to some kind of bibliographic hell, saddled with the ever-vague concept of discoverability. “Keywords” has been the cry: find the right keywords and you can rule the online universe. Is that all there is? Seven keywords and you’re off to the races?
Metadata has been vastly undervalued. I’m here to tell you that metadata is the most important part of selling books today. Bar none. Its power should change the way you market books. It can measurably increase your sales; this has been proven. Publishers have to start approaching metadata as a strategic weapon, not as the digital equivalent of an old library card catalogue.
Publishers Weekly started covering metadata 16 years ago (the first article I can find is dated 2002). “Accurate Metadata Sells Books” is the title of a PW article from 2010. Why, in late 2018, am I still trying to convince publishers that metadata sells books?
Editorial is at the heart of book publishing: if all other factors are equal, the better book will sell more copies. Of course, few of the factors are ever equal, and, in publishing, sales and marketing is mostly concerned with trying to tip the precariously balanced scales ever-so-slightly in your direction.
In a bricks-and-mortar world, the marketing process is well defined and easy to understand: take a good book, seek to influence the conversation via book reviews and the author’s presence, and, anticipating some interest, buy your way to prominent retail display, so the book is visible when the educated customer comes calling.
In the online world, publishers and authors still seek influence but, for the most part, can’t buy prominent display space. It’s a Gordian knot. A book appears most prominently on Amazon because it’s selling well despite not appearing prominently on Amazon.
We saw a vivid example of the problem earlier this year, when bad metadata appropriated the buzz of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House and turned a 2009 book, Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942–1945, into an overnight bestseller.
And so achieving prominence becomes a far more complex challenge than it was in an exclusively bricks-and-mortar world. Relationships are established digitally; metadata is the grease on the wheel of online connections.
Metadata is left-brained, dry, and analytical, and publishing executives are mostly right-brained, creative, and sensitive. They don’t understand how metadata really works, and they’ll settle for the 30,000-foot view. And, truth be told, from 30,000 feet, metadata does look like a library card catalogue. Up close, it looks complicated. Metadata is standards based, and right-brained people don’t like technical standards. Going deep on metadata takes you into the realm of ePub, HTML, SEO, and Onix. What publishing executive wants to go there?
The other damning thing about metadata is that the #1 reason publishers need great metadata is to compete on Amazon. And if there’s one thing that makes a publishing executive cringe more than complex technology, it’s thinking about ways to more effectively compete on Amazon. The game is brutal and complex, the rules change all the time, and self-published authors and Amazon imprints keep winning.
The unpleasant truth is that, though online book pages may appear reminiscent of the bookshop on Main Street, they are in fact located at the bookshop in the city of Amazon. The cover still matters a lot, as do the jacket copy and blurbs.
But there’s so much more that happens on Amazon. There are reader reviews—good ones and bad ones—that signal a book’s quality from a customer’s perspective, rather than from the perspective of a doting friend of the author. There’s a dynamic sales ranking. There are multiple formats on sale side-by-side. Complementary titles are found below the fold. There’s dynamic pricing. On the author’s page are videos and links to community pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The big hurdle for publishers is understanding that all of this online information is based in metadata. Metadata has depth and breadth. Metadata should be verbose but accurate. Metadata should emanate outward, linking, constantly linking, to every online way station that a book buyer might visit.
Preparing this article in mid-September, I dived into the Publishers Weekly Job Zone, searching for jobs that I was certain would demand a familiarity with metadata. To my surprise, I found several ads seeking marketing managers, publicity coordinators, and the like that did not list any metadata-related skills or knowledge in their applicant requirements. If it’s true that metadata sells books, then why do none of these marketing positions require metadata knowledge?
Until management prioritizes its managers’ knowing how to compete with metadata, metadata will be a good housekeeping afterthought. Metadata is great, and the publishers who embrace its strategic value will thrive.
Thad McIlroy is an electronic publishing analyst and author, based on the West Coast and at his website, The Future of Publishing. He is a founding partner of Publishing Technology Partners.
Alison Flood in The Guardian Mon 17 Sep 2018 12.41 EDT
The number of adults in the US reading novels and short stories has hit a new low, with the decline of almost 8% in the last five years seen mainly among women, African Americans and younger adults, according to a major new survey.
Run in conjunction with the US Census Bureau at regular intervals since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts surveyed almost 30,000 adults. It found good news for poetry, with 11.7% of adults saying they had read poetry last year, an increase of 76% – equivalent to 28 million people – on 2012.
But novels and short-story reading rates have declined, from 47% of the US population in 2008, and 45.2% in 2012 to just 41.8% in 2017. According to the NEA, the drops were “mainly among women, African Americans, and 18- to 24-year-olds”. The percentage of women reading novels fell from 54.6% in 2012 to 50% five years later. African Americans reading novels were down almost 7%, to just over 30%, and 18- to 24-year-old fiction readers declined 7.2%, to 38.7%. White readers of novels were also down, by almost 3%, to 48%.
The continuing pattern of decline identified in the survey is echoed by book sales, according to Publishers Weekly, which cited figures from the Association of American Publishers that showed that fiction buyers had fallen by 17% between 2013 and 2018.
Overall, said the NEA, book reading remained “on par” with previous surveys in 2012 and 2008: almost 53% of American adults read a book in any genre in 2017 – not a statistically significant decline from 2012’s 54.6%. The survey did, however, call the 3% decline in female readers “significant”.
The boom in poetry reading – the first in the history of the NEA survey – was driven by younger readers: sales are thriving for “Instapoets” such as Rupi Kaur, whose collection Milk and Honey has sold more than 1m copies around the world. The share of 18- to 24-year-olds who read poetry more than doubled over the last five years, making this group the most likely to read poetry.
Women also flocked to poetry, increasing from 8% in 2012 to 14.5% in 2017, as did Hispanic poetry readers, up from 4.9% five years ago to 9.7% in 2017, African Americans (up 8.4%) and Asian Americans (up 7.8%). At 15.3%, the ethnic group most likely to read poetry in the US is now African Americans, the survey found.
“For the first time in the survey’s history, reading rates for poetry and plays have increased from the prior survey period,” wrote the NEA’s director of research and analysis, Sunil Iyengar, introducing the survey. “The surge in poetry reading was experienced by diverse demographic groups.”
Iyengar said that the NEA would explore the decline in novel and short story reading in future reports.
As a published author, what are YOU going to do about this? This is your income decreasing!
I created four characters that are meant to be for a comic book known as the "Super Readers". They were created with certain 'super hero' aspects, but ALL of them have something in common; reading, writing and books.
They illustrate to children that by starting to read at a young age and continually reading through adult hood they can become their own Super Hero's because of what they read.
I hope you will check them out and support getting them made into a comic book that we can share with Texas Students. http://deartexas.info/index.php/superreaders