Great Expectations

In a twist of fate, former contributor MJ Rose sent an email this morning mentioning she had written a from-the-gut post that seemed right for WU. We had no post scheduled for today. The rest is history. Please welcome MJ Rose back to WU for a post on the after-pub blues, which comes on the heels of the publication of her latest novel, the beautiful The Witch of Painted Sorrows.

photo by Fernando Messino
photo by Fernando Messino

Apropos of a few blog posts I’ve read elsewhere and posts here and there, and my own book coming out last week… I’ve been thinking about “post-pub-blues.”

I think one of the real problems we authors face is that in order to write a book–to do all the research, to juggle day jobs and family and make sacrifices to find time to write, to sweat over words and paragraphs and characters, to sometimes bleed on the page–we have to believe what we are creating is not only wonderful and amazing and worth what we are giving it, but that there is no other book like it.

We have to be huge optimists.

We have to believe in the impossible.

Certainly our books are good. But in reality, there are hundreds of good books published every month…and thousands and thousands every year. And no matter what I tell myself while I’m writing, to keep myself writing, I know the truth. And the truth is I don’t write miracles. I just tell stories.

Yes, they are often fine stories. But are they really wake-up-in-the-morning-and-shout-from-the-rooftops-no-one-has-ever-written-a-book-like-this-before-oh-my-god-stop-the-world stories?

No. Not even if that’s what it took for me to believe that in order to write it. They are not.

And that’s where the problem lies. [Read more…]

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About M.J. Rose

M.J. Rose is the international and NYT's bestselling author of several novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. In 2005 she founded the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz, and is the co-founder of BookTrib and Peroozal. She's a founding member of ITW.

Ask and You Shall Receive. (Or at least ask and you shall know.)

photo by Bilal Kamoon

So you are having that first marketing meeting with your publisher for your book… or that first phone call. Is there anything you should be asking in particular? Should you push for anything specifically?

If this is the first call? You want to hear their plans. Then you and your agent should go over what they said and translate it – there can be code in their answers. Ask them what they are planning on doing and listen and take notes. When they say something like – We’re doing Goodreads- ask them to be specific and write down what they say.

Chances are the first call/meeting will be more than several months pre-pub. So lots of info won’t be available yet. They wait to decide some things till they get a sense of orders. But you still want to find out as much as you can. Just remember it is only the first call/meeting. There should be another before the ARCs are sent out. At that point they’ll know more. And then there should be yet one more once they have a sense of how those orders are looking.

At every stage there’s more you can find out and more you need to know. And at every stage you and your agent should be working on and refining a wish list of marketing and PR opportunities/efforts. To do that you’ll want to get a lot of questions answered so you can see if there are any holes and figure out if you need to bring in any outside services or if everything looks good.

Also all this knowledge helps you manage your expectations and that’s half the battle when it comes to having a good publishing experience. If you know going in that they are happy to be publishing you but aren’t giving your book the “it” treatment, you’ll be happy when you go back to press for a second printing. But if you have no idea how they see your book and are anticipating it getting “Gone Girl” PR, marketing and co-op treatment, you’ll be devastated when you don’t see stacks of books in B&N.

Here’s a checklist of what you want to find out to help you figure out what they are doing, what they aren’t, where your book ranks in terms in terms of effort and juice, and what you should be thinking about doing yourself. [Read more…]

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About M.J. Rose

M.J. Rose is the international and NYT's bestselling author of several novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. In 2005 she founded the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz, and is the co-founder of BookTrib and Peroozal. She's a founding member of ITW.

Good Enough

photo by ganesha.isis

If we allow ourselves to remain at the mercy of our desire for perfection, not only will the perfect elude us, so will the good.” – Alex Lickerman, M.D. in Happiness in this World

I’m at a very strange crossroads in my career.

On May 7, 2013 my 13th book will be released. SEDUCTION was the most difficult book I ever tackled. (For one thing I wrote it in longhand in antique journals with an old fountain pen and green ink.) As a result of how difficult it was, it’s become the most fulfilling book I’ve ever written.

But I’m facing the most un-perfect book launch I’ve ever had. Due to an ongoing negotiation between my publisher and B&N, my book won’t be on display in the largest retailer in the U.S. It won’t even be available in most B&Ns. And no one can buy a book if they don’t see it or know it. There’s more I won’t bore you with.

This un-perfectness is having an effect on me. All that is good about this book suddenly isn’t good enough.

And there is so much good.

When I discovered the little-know fact that starting in 1853 Victor Hugo conducted over 100 séances, and I decided to write about it for my 2013 book, no one knew that the movie Les Miserables would be made into a new film, no less come out within 6 months of my pub date. It’s not good – it’s great that the movie was such a hit, as the attention for Hugo is at an all-time high.

Plus I have a gorgeous cover, SEDUCTION is a May Indie Next List pick, the trade reviews have been wonderful, and there’s more I won’t bore you with. But I can’t see any of it. I’m obsessed with what is going wrong.

Last week I was moaning about all this to my wonderfully wise agent, Dan Conaway. He agreed that it sucked. Then he quoted Aristotle or Confucius or Flaubert or Voltaire (it’s attributed to all of them).

Perfect is the enemy of the good.

Wow. Zing. The words went right through me and resonated as if I was Esmeralda right up there while Notre Dame’s bells pealed.

[Read more…]

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About M.J. Rose

M.J. Rose is the international and NYT's bestselling author of several novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. In 2005 she founded the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz, and is the co-founder of BookTrib and Peroozal. She's a founding member of ITW.

Give Yourself A Celebration (Plus: Giveaway!)

photo by Velo Steve

Because of ongoing negotiations between Barnes and Noble and Simon and Schuster, the new trade paperback release of M.J. Rose’s The Book of Lost Fragrances isn’t on display in any Barnes and Noble stores -a loss of visibility that can hurt a book’s sales potential. In the spirit of helping a fellow writer, WU will be sponsoring a giveaway today. Leave a comment on M.J.’s post for a chance to win a copy of her novel. In two days time, we’ll randomly chose a winner. Even if you don’t win, we hope you’ll support this book by buying a copy yourself and/or helping to spread the word about this book. Thank you!

This business is brutal. Very few books win the lottery. There are too many million things that have to line up just right for your book to get a chance to be bona fide hit. At every step anything can go wrong. Even everything can go wrong. From sloppy edits, to bad covers, to meager marketing budgets, to snarky Kirkus reviews, to books not being shipped, to not getting table displays.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the trap of what you should be doing for your book. From Tweeting to building Pinterest boards, to growing a phenomenal number of followers at Facebook (even if we all know that Facebook doesn’t show them all our posts).

It’s so easy to obsess over your upcoming launch. To worry that you aren’t doing enough. To say yes to everyone who asks you to write an essay for their blog. To go above the budget you gave yourself in order to buy extra marketing. To fixate on every bad Amazon review. To compare yourself to every other author doing better than you. To check your rankings incessantly. To beg your publisher for yet more free books because you didn’t give one to the shoe shine guy in Grand Central station who might give it good word of mouth because he talks to so many people a day. Right?

But what’s hard to do is stop. [Read more…]

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About M.J. Rose

M.J. Rose is the international and NYT's bestselling author of several novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. In 2005 she founded the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz, and is the co-founder of BookTrib and Peroozal. She's a founding member of ITW.

The Importance of a WOW Book in an Overcrowded Marketplace

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photo by alexkess

 

I want to implore you to remember to dedicate at least as much effort, if not more, to craft than you did before you started taking on so many of the business functions in the industry. Simply never lose sight of the fact that readers expect you to bring your A-game consistently, and they have more incentive than ever to walk away if you disappoint them.” – Lou Aronica, Publisher, Fiction Studio,  in his last letter as President, to the membership of Novelists, Inc.

Estimates are that in 2012 over 1.5 million books will have been published (About 20% of them coming from traditional houses).  And thanks to the explosion of self-publishing, 2013 could see double that number; as many as 3 million books might grace our virtual bookstores next year! That means we are going to be awash in covers and titles, plot descriptions and characters. That means we are going to be pushing harder than ever to break through the crowded marketplace and doing it without any new methods or magic.

It means that now more than ever we can’t be writing just another book. We can’t be  rushing through a draft.

There are those who say the way to win the game is to write fast and furious, and fill up the virtual shelves with as many books carrying your name on the spine as possible.  In the past there’s been some proof that it was a viable strategy.

But there’s more proof that the future isn’t about endless quantity. [Read more…]

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About M.J. Rose

M.J. Rose is the international and NYT's bestselling author of several novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. In 2005 she founded the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz, and is the co-founder of BookTrib and Peroozal. She's a founding member of ITW.