Henry David Thoreau Quote: The Key to Selling Anything

Henry David Thoreau Quote I have great faith in a seed... Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders“I have great faith in a seed… Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.” Wow. To me, this Henry David Thoreau quote summarizes the main idea of selling your work to a publisher or a producer.* Heck, it’s the key to selling anything. And the two key words?

“Convince me.”

The Seed & the Idea

The seed is important. Never doubt that because it’s absolutely true. The promise of the seed, the map of it – because that’s what a seed is, right? – that is what you’re selling when you’re selling an idea. You’re telling them that you have a plan.

Because a seed is more than an idea. And this is where the makeup of an actual seed becomes useful in this metaphor. Seeds hold DNA for a plant, right? The blueprints for how the plant will work and what it will be. That’s the idea part. But there’s also energy. There’s food for that idea. Enough to feed it until it can begin to feed itself. Enough to get it started, to get that energy going.

Those are the elements of an idea that you need in order to sell it. No only the idea but also how it’s going to grow. And what’s going to help it grow.

Convincing (Persuasion)

That’s the other half of the equation, and unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as half. A really charismatic salesperson who’s good with all 3 appeals can convince you that a pretty bad idea has potential. On the other hand, if a person has a really fantastic idea, that person could be a worse salesperson (not horrible, but worse).

Unfortunately, the ability to convince and the willingness of the audience to be convinced can be much more important than the idea itself. In other words, if you already want to believe in the idea, then, it doesn’t even have to be that good of a salesperson. And if you’re naturally inclined against the idea, the salesperson had better be outstanding. (But I stray…).

That’s why the plan and energy of the idea are so important. You might even call them the key to selling anything.

If you convince someone that your idea has the energy to start and grow to be self-sustaining, then you’ve convinced them that the idea has potential. That’s when the value of the idea itself matters. It doesn’t matter how good the idea is if they don’t think it’ll go anywhere (or anywhere they want to go).

So what’s holding you back? Take your idea and flesh it out with the energy and the plan for making it take off!

*I haven’t even tried to sell a book or play yet, but I have worked in several sales jobs, including direct marketing and realty.

For Authors with Books in Kindle and Print: Check out the Storyteller UK Competition

Unfortunately, I’m not ready to take advantage of this opportunity. I am, however, prepared to share it so that you can. You’re welcome.

Sorry. Just kidding – I can’t say that seriously in those circumstances without feeling like the R-rated word for jerk.

Shizzle, Inc is now back to $2.99USD, and it’s the Storyteller UK competition to blame. That, and partly the negative reviews that come from readers grabbing a freebie without even reading the blurb. Oh, and the fact that in June I’m going to pitch it to a dozen publishers and a $2.99 book may look […]

via Storyteller UK competition and why Shizzle, Inc is no longer free — Ana Spoke, author

Literary Speed Sales to Publishers

No, I’ve never heard of this before. I’ve read about similar options for photographers in paid classes at some conferences (which, honestly, sounded very intense). But has anyone heard about literary speed sales to publishers here in the U.S.?

Friends share with friends, right? (And save them extra Googling when possible)

Did you know such thing even existed? No, it’s not authors dating authors, although maybe that’s not a bad idea either. It’s an event organised by an author society, where about a dozen publishers get to hear 3-minute pitches from writers that want to traditionally publish their books. I’ve known about the one organised by Australian […]

via Literary Speed Dating — Ana Spoke, author

Is There an Author Who’s Submitted to a Publisher & Never Received a Single Rejection Letter?

I am seriously curious. Does anyone know if there is an author who’s submitted to a publisher and never – I mean NEVER – received a single rejection letter? I think if I submitted something and got accepted the first try I’d be tempted never to try again just to be able to say that (tempted only. I couldn’t resist writing and trying again!).

Many of the most famous writers received rejection letters before finally being published. There are any number of great quotes by them on the matter, too. Some of the best writing advice out there is to write and submit over and over and over again until you get something published. And then, start all over.

Here’s an interesting example:

J.K. Rowling, famed author of the Harry Potter series, not only received rejection letters for that aforementioned series (I bet those publishers regret that now) but also received rejections letters for the unrelated series she’s written since then. We know this because Rowling posted two of the rejection letters on her twitter feed to show her fans that a rejection letter is not the end of the world. Or the end of a writing career for that matter.

Personally, I feel a little sorry for the publishers who didn’t know they were turning down such a famous author (their names were hidden, so it’s ok.), but I can also understand why she would want to try to publish the new series without resting on her laurels. It’s kind of like being an actor or actress who did so fabulously and famously in a specific role that your chance of getting a different kind of role is almost impossible. Or, it could make you wonder if you’re getting the new role because you deserved it or simply because the producers thought your name would sell in the box office.

I’m actually the most curious about how different the Harry Potter series was when it was accepted versus when it was rejected. Did she change it, or did she submit the same manuscript elsewhere?

See, like those producers, publishers are also thinking of salability, and if there’s a glutton of a certain type of novel on the market, then, maybe, book A will be chosen over book B. On the other hand, if there aren’t so many books competing, maybe, both would be published (Or that’s my impression from what publishers and authors say on the subject).

So if the timing is such a big part of getting published, are rejection letters a kind of notice that the time isn’t right yet? And submitting again and again to different publishers is like knocking on someone’s door – are you ready yet? You don’t want to be too obnoxious, but checking in every so often makes sense.

That’s not to say that all manuscripts that are submitted are going to be published if they’re submitted over and over again without any changes. Some novels do need revisions. That said, there are also plenty of novels that were rejected by multiple publishers before being picked up and hitting it big. And plenty of novelists whose works were rejected after they had big hits. No one is immune (Seriously, can you think of anyone?), so think of rejection letters as part of the publishing process.

C’mon, guys. Everybody’s doing it.

Traditional Publishing vs. Indie Publishing: How Should I Sell My Book?

Traditional publishing vs. indie publishing is another “why are you asking me?” question. It’s also a question you’re going to have to answer for yourself; however, I can give you some information that may help inform your decision.

Answering this question generally comes down to a combination of 4 factors: prestige, control, money, and time/energy (they’re the same factor in this case – we’ll get to that).

Prestige

It used to be that self-publishing was a career-breaker for writers. Not only was it really hard to make a profit (most self-publishing companies were too expensive for that), but also once  you did it, you’d effectively have marked yourself with a scarlet letter so that regular publishers wouldn’t want you anymore (not without major incentives).

Well, ebook sales have completely changed that. Writers can now sell their books with little-to-no upfront costs, and any residual negative connotations with self-publishing are rapidly disappearing.

The prestige of going through a publisher, on the other hand, is not fading quite as quickly. In many circles, there is still thrill and acclaim associated with being picked up by a publisher. It’s like a stamp of approval saying that your book made the cut. Indie publishing has about the same prestige as having your own blog (Yeah, it’s nice, but anyone can do it.).

If your main goal in publishing is to get that recognition, you don’t need to read further. You want traditional publishing (although I will say # of sales and making the charts on Amazon is starting to be its own stamp of approval, so this may change over time).

Control

Ceding any control over your book can be hard. Scratch that. It can be insanely, drastically impossible (or it can seem that way). Changing your book simply because some editor (and what do they know?) said to? Excuse me?

I understand the emotion; however, I have mixed feelings about choosing self-publishing to get full control over your book. If you’re an experienced writer, and the book is still going through a thorough editing process, then I’m all for it. Sounds great. If you’re a first-time writer, you may or may not be doing yourself (and your book) a disservice.

Assuming that the editor is completely off base and that your book is perfect as it is… well, that’s problematic. While it’s possible, more often than not, the editor is right – if not about how to fix the problems, then at least about the fact that there are problems and what the problems are (alas, no book is perfect).

So getting full control is fine as long as that doesn’t become an excuse for ignoring major problems. Remember: making the book better means it will probably sell better (which means more money for you).

Money

As much as writers are artists, we are also adults who (generally) need to make money to pay for important things (like food, rent, books – you know, the essentials). I’m not enough of an expert to tell you exact price points. What I want to talk about is perspective and strategy.

Are you more concerned with long-term payoff or a fast, guaranteed return?

If you need money to spend now, you’re going to get more upfront from traditional publishing than from indie publishing. With an advance against royalties contract, you get a big fat check upfront followed by royalties after you sell enough (which can take a while). Most of the figures I’ve seen for advances are quoted in the thousands (for more information, here’s “11 Frequently Asked Questions About Book Royalties, Advances and Money” by Chuck Sambuchino), so it can take a while for ebook sales to match that.

For example, to match a $3,000 advance, you’d have to sell between 700 and 8,600 copies of your ebook, depending on how you decide to price it. And that was one of the lower advances I saw.

Can you make more than that? Absolutely. If your book is good (or simply popularly appealing), and you get it out where people can see it, you can definitely sell a lot more than that. And the plus of getting to set your price is that you determine how high your royalties are – and when you compare royalties, ebooks almost always win out. With higher royalties, you definitely have the opportunity to make that much and more in the long-term.

The odds of it happening overnight are not so good.

If you’re confident that you can market to sell, and you don’t need the extra influx of cash, indie publishing could be a bigger payoff in the long-term. If you need some money now, you have a better chance of getting more with traditional publishing.

Time/Energy

The last factor to consider is your time and energy. And I might add knowledge of marketing. Ideally, you’ll be doing some promoting either way; however, the amount is going to change based on whether you have help from a publisher or not.

Do you have the time, energy, and knowledge to do all your own marketing? More importantly, do you have the time, energy, and knowledge to do it well?

People can’t buy your book if they don’t know it’s there. That goes for printed books as well as ebooks. And that’s the point of marketing. The job of marketing is to make people know that the book is there and (we hope) make it sound worth buying. There’s a lot that goes into it – remember that businesses have a person or even a whole team of people whose full-time jobs are doing the marketing for that business.

If you go with indie publishing, you are responsible for your own marketing. Period. End of story. Unless your best friend is a marketing expert who’s willing to put in some hours as a gift, you are on your own. That means that all the time and energy spent researching, making marketing materials, and setting up ads or accounts are all coming from you (and the money that goes into  it does, too).

If you don’t think you can do that, indie publishing might not be the option for you.

With traditional publishing, at least some marketing is included. So while you should do some promotions yourself, you will not be completely on your own. The cover at least will be done for you, and most likely, there will be some deal to get the books printed and in stores. With copies of your books in bookstores, you also have the option of the impulse buy from browsing that is generally harder online.

Traditional Publishing vs. Indie Publishing

Prestige, control, money, time/energy – each of these factors can be huge, and they can vary dramatically from person to person. Or even from moment to moment and book to book. You can use traditional publishing for 1 book and indie publishing for another. People starting their careers might need a very different strategy from someone who’s well established.

So what’s your strategy? How will you sell your book?

The All-Important Manuscript Format

If you’ve been looking at places to submit your work (book publishers, magazines, contests, etc.), you’ve probably noticed that just about all of them use the same term. Even in the modern day of sending files instead of printed pages, pretty much all publishers are looking for manuscript format.

So what is manuscript format?

Instead of trying to explain it myself, I’m going to provide you with a couple links to descriptions by people with a lot more experience in the publishing industry.

  • Proper Manuscript Format” by William Shunn (a published science fiction author) is a great introduction since it not only explains the rules of the format and the reasons for the rules but also is in manuscript format – it is both explanation and example.
  • Shunn has additional (and more traditional) articles on manuscript format, as well. Another that might interest you involves the difference between tabs and indents: “Indenting paragraphs without the tab key.”

If you don’t have time to read through a variety of articles (say, you have a contest deadline tomorrow), here is a shorter version with a straight-forward list of rules:

There you go. Manuscript format in the words of people who work with it all the time. Anyone have anything to add?

The Delicate Art of Book Promotion

Here’s an excellent peek into the life of an author. Whether you’re planning on self-publication, blogging, or going through a publisher, self-promotion is part of making it work. If the books are as well-written as the article, then, they’re definitely worth a glance, too.

Winona Kent

I’ve just spent the better part of five days getting ready for a book release.

Real-Book-07-cillarose-coming soon-smallReal-Book-07-coldplay-coming soon-smallReal-Book-07-POM-coming soon-smallReal-Book-07-skywatcher-coming soon-small

Actually, as you can see, it’s four books, and they’re being re-released. One of them, my debut novel, a tongue-incheek spy story called Skywatcher, has been out of print since 1989.

The others are The Cilla Rose AffairSkywatcher’s sequel, same characters, new adventure – Mission: Impossible meets The Man from UNCLE; Cold Play – a standalone thriller set on a cruise ship in Alaska; and Persistence of Memory, the first in my Memory Books series about accidental time traveller Charlie Duran and her companion Shaun Deeley.

Persistence of Memory, as you may know, was published by Fable Press in 2013. Unfortunately Fable went out of business earlier this year, but the good news is, Diversion Books in New York agreed to republish it, along with my three…

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