Join us in Brooklyn on October 28th, 2015, at 7pm for a panel discussion at BookCourt, hosted by Book Country, Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, and Pinterest, and featuring special guest author Maris Kreizman!
Building a Writing Community Online and Off
October 28, 2015 @ 7pm BookCourt
163 Court Street
The most daunting task for aspiring and emerging writers can be building and growing their writing community online and off. Danielle Rayman of Pinterest and Lucy Silag of Book Country will share how social media and online writing communities can be tools for getting your work into the hands of agents, publishers, and readers. Julia Fierro, founder and director of the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop; Maris Kreizman, of Kickstarter and SLAUGHTERHOUSE 90210 (the Tumblr and new book); and Andrew Unger of Bookcourt provide insight into how being a part of a local “writers” scene has real value when it comes to taking your writing to the next level.
This NYC writers event is free and open to the public.
It was great to be a part of Moonlight & Magnolias 2015. This was the annual conference of the Georgia Romance Writers (a regional chapter of the Romance Writers of America). Longtime Book Country member Noelle Pierce was conference chair, and she did a truly fabulous job for a seamless, fun, productive gathering of 200+ high-spirited romance writers. (In fact, Noelle was a winner of the Maggie Service Award for her contributions to the chapter this year. Go, Noelle!)
Here are four key takeaways from Moonlight & Magnolias 2015:
Romance writers have a strong support system. More than any other genre group of writers I’ve worked with so far, romance writers band together to lift up their own. First off, they read–and buy–a ton of books in their own genre. They also follow one another on social media, review each other’s books online, and cheer on both new writers and long-held favorite authors. Georgia Romance Writers have taken it one step further in real life. For the last 33 years, they’ve maintained a robust schedule of meetings and events, an incredible mentoring program, and the prestigious Maggie Awards to honor standout books in the genre. Romance writers should absolutely be taking advantage of these resources, whether on the national level, or by seeking out their local chapter. Not a romance writer? Follow the example of romance writers by finding similar ways to support and celebrate your own genre writing community. Continue reading →
I couldn’t be more excited to head down to Atlanta this weekend for the Georgia Romance Writers regional conference, Moonlight & Magnolias 2015!
I’ll be the featured industry speaker on Saturday afternoon. Here are the details:
Saturday, October 3 2-3:50pm Atlanta Marriott Northwest at Galleria
Treat Your Book Like a Start-Up
Join us to learn about Book Country, Penguin Random House’s writing and publishing community, and how the site has helped writers to write their best books, connect with audiences, and publish with the support of a community. This session is designed to help Georgia Romance Writers figure out the next step toward reaching their writing and publishing goals. Each participant will leave with a customized, immediate, and actionable plan for their book or work-in-progress based on where they are in the writing process. Continue reading →
When I’m telling writers about the Book Country community, I often get asked how writers who’ve already published can get involved on the site. Here are a few ways how published authors can use Book Country:
Have a book coming out?
Writers of all levels of experience use Book Country to workshop their manuscripts. We have 1:1 feedback on Book Country, which means that members have to review another writer’s book before they can post their own. We find that for a member’s first review, they are most likely to review a book with a great professional cover, a sharp synopsis, and, of course, a lower word count. Published authors can upload an excerpt of their forthcoming book as a preview. On Book Country, we have a built in audience of members seeking things to read. Just be sure and let the community know that what you upload is your final draft, and be prepared to get suggestions for revision even if you’re not going to use the feedback right now–it might be useful to you later. Be sure to include when and where folks can buy the book when it’s out! You can see how Penguin Intermix author Alex Rosa did this for her book TRYST before it came out last spring.
Already have a book out?
Again, using Book Country as a place to showcase an excerpt is a great way to give your book exposure to a built in audience. This is how I found out about Jessica Hawkins’s book COME UNDONE, and now her Cityscape series is one of my all-time favorite romance trilogies. Book Country’s blog and discussion boards can also help published authors brainstorm new ideas for marketing and promotion (check out how GD Deckard is sharing his experience using Google Adwords for his book THE PHOENIX DIARY), and connecting with other writers will help you build a network of contacts. Last week, when Book Country member Janice Peacock’s cozy mystery HIGH STRUNG was rereleased by Booktrope, she was interviewed on member DJ Lutz’s blog. These two met on the site and have been supporting each other ever since. Continue reading →
Say hello to this morning’s blog guest Kerri Kolen, Executive Editor at G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Putnam), the Penguin Publishing Group imprint that holds the record for more New York Times hardcover bestsellers in the last two decades than any other imprint. Kerri’s going to be one of the fabulously knowledgeable panelists on the Book Country panel at the upcoming Slice Literary Writers’ Conference talking about “Unconventional Paths to Publishing.” Below she shares insights on what sets apart the books she acquires for Putnam, and what she’s excited about publishing this fall.
LS: You are in charge of the nonfiction program at Putnam, where you edit books on a huge variety of subjects (including lots of books by famous people!). For the non-famous writers of nonfiction among us, can you tell us what qualities will set a manuscript apart for you?
KK: From Word One, the voice will set a manuscript apart. And then pretty soon thereafter, I will be able to tell if the writing is singular or not, as well. Those two qualities are so incredibly important for obvious reasons, but also because those are the qualities that are very difficult, if not impossible, to teach a writer or tease out in an edit. After that, depending on the type of book, I will always look to the narrative itself. What is the story? Is it new? Is it something that readers will feel compelled to tell all of their friends about? And of course, a platform is always very helpful. You don’t have to be famous to build a nice platform–whether it be on social media, with a blog or website, with a brand, with a voice to a larger community in some way or another. And then attached to that: how engaged is the audience? I’d take a smaller but highly engaged audience over a tremendous number of less engaged readers every time. The platform is not essential (and we would look to help the author with building a platform in the months between acquisition and on-sale) but it certainly helps me value the project. Continue reading →
We were saddened to hear about the closure of the Authonomy writing community. Operated by HarperCollins UK since 2008, writers from all over world have really enjoyed using the site and the careers it has launched have been inspiring to watch. According to the Authonomy blog, the site will officially close on September 30, 2015.
Many writers are members of both Book Country and Authonomy. In the past week, we’ve seen even more former “Authonomites” join our ranks, many introducing themselves on this discussion thread started by member Katie O’Rourke (Katie78). It’s been wonderful to meet all these new folks and welcome them into our community! Continue reading →
Here’s a description of the conference courtesy of the editors at Slice magazine:
Slice Literary’s fifth annual writers’ conference will take place on September 12 and 13 in downtown Brooklyn. Our panels and workshops will cover topics from the craft of writing (plotting, dialogue, characterization, poetry, and more) to the business of writing (pitch letters, landing a book deal, and beyond). Top editors, agents, and authors will discuss crucial steps to help launch a writer’s career. But a book deal is just the beginning of a writer’s professional journey. We invite leading professionals to offer trade secrets about how they transform a great story into a bestselling book (and what writers can do to help them get there).
Who: Click here for the list of agents, editors, authors, and publishing professionals who will take part in the conference this year.
All of the many panels are sure to be fantastic, but one of the most unmissable is, of course, the panel I’m moderating called “Unconventional Paths to Publishing.” Here’s the info for that one: Continue reading →
It was a great weekend at the PNWA 2015 Conference in Seattle, talking with agents, editors, and writers about Book Country, social media, and the publishing process. (PNWA stands for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association.) I want to share these six big takeaways from the conference with the rest of the Book Country community:
Finding beta-readers is as important as ever. However you choose to work with beta-readers–whether in a real-life writing group, remotely via email, or on a workshopping site like Book Country–no one can dispute that a writer needs feedback on their manuscript prior to a successful publication.Technology that makes finding beta-readers easy has become indispensable to in-the-know writers.
Feedback can be wide-ranging, but ratings are also revealing. The more feedback a writer gets on their book, the better informed revision decisions they can make. Getting reviews on your book from beta-readers is a great way to seek suggestions on how to revise. But different readers give different suggestions, sometimes contradicting one another. Your overall ratings can be a powerful way to aggregate your readers’ opinions. On Book Country, for example, your overall rating–so long as you’ve spent the time and energy to garner a large number of peer reviews–will help you gauge whether or not your book is ready to be published.
Distribution is everything. Writers have gotten savvier about this since the last time I was at PNWA. Back then, I met a lot of writers who had self-published but their book was not widely available. It’s rare these days to find a writer who isn’t planning to publish their book electronically, and it’s also common for writers to make sure their book is available for many different types of eReader. On Book Country, for example, authors can publish once and simultaneously distribute to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, Kobo, iBooks, Google, and Flipkart. It’s essential for writers to stay on top of book retail trends.
Social media takes time. Writers at PNWA knew how important it is for them to be growing their social media audience. It’s key to start building a following early, so that when your book does launch, it has somewhere receptive to land. Learning how to use social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and others now rather than later is a good use of an aspiring writer’s time.
Social media takes time. Wait, didn’t I just say that? To be clear, it’s not just building a social media that takes time. Doing the real work of social media–writing posts, creating engaging images, reading social media feeds, and conversing with followers–takes big chunks of your day-to-day. So not only do you want to start early, you also want to get organized. Writers I met at PNWA were figuring out how to carve out time for social media tasks. One tip Andrea Dunlop shared in our “Dos and Don’ts of Social Media” session was to be realistic about how much time you will be consistently able to devote to your social media. It’s easy to sign up for a lot of accounts, but it’s better to be selectively active than to have a bunch of abandoned online profiles. (Go here for more tips from Andrea.)
Professional author services are the author’s best kept secret. More and more writers–both those seeking self-publishing and traditional publishing–are hiring professional developmental editors, copyeditors, proofreaders, book publicists, marketers, designers, and more. The competition to get noticed is stiff, so figuring out what you need help with to make your book stand out is becoming a bigger part of the publishing process. Many writers are using editorial firms like Girl Friday Productions to develop and polish manuscripts. Authors who find social media either too daunting or too time-consuming are learning how to hire it out to professionals. While these services can be expensive, many writers and authors are finding them to be valuable. I predict that we’ll be discussing this aspect of the publishing industry much more here on Book Country in the next year.
At PNWA 2015, you can find me at the Book Country table in the Exhibition Hall on Friday and Saturday. I’ll also be doing the following presentations:
“Treat Your Book Like a Start Up”(Friday, July 17 @ 12-1:30pm, Emerald Ballroom D)
“The Author Platform: Social Media Dos and Don’ts” with Andrea Dunlop, Book Country member and director of social media and marketing at Girl Friday Productions (Saturday, July 18 @10-11:30am, Emerald Ballroom E)
The full schedule for sessions at PNWA 2015 is here.
Come visit the Book Country table on Thursday, July 9th, between 2-5:30pm on the Ballroom Level of the Grand Hyatt NYC. We’re going to be tabling during the PitchFest event, where hundreds of thriller writers will giving their 3-minute novel pitch to dozens of agents.