A sell sheet, press release, announcement, and more are prepared for distribution. Depending on available slots in the publication calendar, the time from accepting a manuscript to its publication is typically 18 months to 2 years. Thanks to Eric for taking part in this interview. Did you find it useful?
Any questions I missed out? Let me know in the comments below. And you can read my review of that memoir here. Big Ideas are the raw material of successful fiction. So how can you get better at coming up with them? Read this interview to find out…. How do you come up with great ideas for your promotions, and how do you take your initial idea and develop it into a full promotion? How do you know when an idea is good enough to work on?
How do you know when you have a stinker that you should abandon? I get ideas by reading all the time in the fields I write about, by talking to people who care a lot about those fields, and by writing out those ideas over and over until they morph into something better. That last bit is pretty much the answer to your question about how ideas develop into a full promotion. I throw away a lot more than I keep. Is there one?
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You have to be writing about something they already care about. And you have to be doing it in a new and different — and believable — way. If selling is about building relationships, like I said earlier, then good sales copy conveys value. And engenders trust. How many people review your work and give feedback? Unfortunately, the longer you do this stuff, the harder it is to get an in-depth critique.
As for my writing process, I change it every six months or so to keep things fresh.
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But it usually starts with a brainstorming call and then a couple weeks of reading and taking notes, all of which I dump into a program called Scrivener. And I start writing it section by section. But it requires a lot more editing on the tail end. In an ideal, minimal deadline situation, I would go through even more edits. What can you tell us about them?
What struggles are you currently having writing these and how do you try and get over those struggles? The number one struggle I have is time.
This is already done, in first draft. I just need to go back and tighten it up but I keep getting side-tracked by other more immediate projects. That one is more of a sequel to another book I co-wrote on writing sales leads. I keep a clip file for other books that are percolating, like a novel, plus a couple non-fiction books.
How are you going to promote or market your books? Are you going through a traditional publisher or looking to self-publish — and why? For the latter, my co-author Joe and I have worked out an arrangement with some folks who are going to help us print and promote.
Plus Joe will aim to get us access to some of the much larger files of the publisher we both work with, Agora Financial. The hardest road these days is probably the more traditional one, where you aim for printed books in bookstores. So I offered to write some articles and possibly arrange a book promotion. It hooks attention because of something they bring to the table, before you ever show up. Their memories, their dreams, their worries.
Another big idea is just that: the Big Idea. Style and cleverness are not enough. Because King still manages to write a big book about one golden thread of an engaging idea while the poet writes a lot of beautiful words about nothing. Many, many authors rely on social media for all or most of their marketing. What would you see as the pros and cons of that approach?
The pros would obviously be that you can build your own list of potential readers. If you can come up with something clever to offer or to go viral with, you can buy some attention that way too. I guess the cons would be that there are other ways to get publicity you might miss, like doing interviews, etc.
Another issue for many authors is efficiency and productivity. As a professional writer, how do you structure your day to be as productive as possible?
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Because situations change or things just get stale. But generally, when it works, the process that works best is to try to write the big stuff first thing in the morning and for at least four hours. The afternoons are for reading, research, meetings and answering emails.
I wind up telling myself I can get to something later. Not good. Or anything from the Jam.
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Or Beethoven. You can download free desktop timers for PC and Mac. Then set one for 30 minutes or so. During that time, you must write. Or try to. Nothing else. Take a two minute break when it goes off and then do it again. Try to do that at least six if not eight times a day.
How do you deal with those? In fact, if my long answers to these questions are any indication, I suffer from the opposite problem. I write too much. When that happens, I just try to get it on the page and then carve up the hell out of it later. Or I try to talk it out with someone, either another writer or my wife.
Or maybe a brainstorming group that I try to pull together. Doing a little more research and taking notes also helps. In fact, sometimes the notes turn into copy as I write them down, opening up a whole new pathway through the idea. Switching mediums can help too, like writing something out by hand or reorganizing it via index cards. A blank page is just a disorganized thought, not yet written down. Even doing a little reading can change that.
And it can kickstart whole new threads to follow.
Email, excess research, Facebook, even the refrigerator or my guitar can get in the way of getting stuff done. Who are your favourite fiction authors and how have they shaped your copywriting or your approach to life? The writers I like are probably a little cliche to people who really know books. Salinger, Hemingway, and others. I tended to go on a tear through one author at a time. I do like words and used to keep a sheet of paper taped to the wall where I would write down phrases or full sentences that I like.
But bigger than that, I think books, specifically fiction, make you more empathetic. And of course, teach you a lot about storytelling. Both are hugely important to writing good sales copy. Have you had any professional or writing mentors?