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Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Fact or fantasy?

All you have to do to be a successful writer is to sit down and write.

Well, yes, certainly you’ll never be a writer (successful or not) if you don’t write. But the days when all a writer needed to do was to write are history.

In today’s world it is essential that we master technology. Okay, we won’t master technology, but it is critical that we know the basics of how to use a computer. And that doesn’t mean just learning how to use Microsoft Word to create a professional looking manuscript that is properly formatted and has headers and page numbers. The wise and brave will learn how to use Scrivener. (Debbie Allen is teaching a 4.5 Wednesday afternoon early bird workshop on “Scrivener from 0-60: Get Comfortable, Get Writing” May 17 at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut the actual writing and learning how to use the great tools we now have is just part of what we need to do. I began writing on an old manual typewriter. Well I’m not as old as this antique typewriter although I do remember my grandfather had one in the basement. My first manuscripts for publication were created on a blue Royal with keys that got tangled when I typed too fast.

Selectric type ballThe introduction of the Selectric typewriter and that marvelous spinning ball greatly increased my productivity. And to be honest, when computers were introduced, I was not at all interested in giving up my trusted Selectric and learning something new. (I really didn’t think I was smart enough!)

Even today, when my computer is causing me grief, I admit I almost long for the good old days of a yellow legal pad and pencil!

The greatest struggle though is all the other stuff that has become essential. Yep! I mean the “building a platform” stuff. While it’s exciting to be able to write something and publish it ourselves as a blog or ebook, the challenge of finding readers is daunting.

Both the May 17-20 Colorado and July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference will provide help with

Blogging

     Creating a Brand

                    Marketing Plans

           Public Speaking

                       Social Media How-to

     Website Evaluation

Below is a chart of Colorado faculty members who are available for one-on-one appointments to help you grow your platform and thus your writing ministry.

chart-grow-writing-ministry2

Important: For a PDF of the above chart click here.
The links are live in the PDF version.

Father, help us to embrace today’s opportunities to reach the world with the words You’ve entrusted to us. When we feel confused and overwhelmed by all we need to learn and to do, help us to trust You. Thank You for Your promise:

Now you have every grace and blessing; every spiritual gift and power for doing his will are yours during this time of waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:7 TLB

 

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It used to be the biggest challenge writers faced was getting words down on paper and finding someone willing to publish them. That still is a challenge, but today it’s just the beginning of what a writer is expected to do.

 

Writing not facebookingNow we daily face the overwhelming task of building a platform. The time needed to write words worth reading is infringed upon by the need to have a growing presence on social media. We are driven to develop our “brand” along with a memorable tagline that will resonate with our “audience.”

I confess it’s all too easy for me to get caught up in this not so merry, merry-go-round.

 

Last week I spent a day and a half preparing a new flyer for the August 3-6 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. One side is an overview of the conference and highlights the concert my friend, Marty Goetz, is giving on Wednesday night.

Marty poster for web

 

The other side describes our exciting Teens Write on Thursday and Pastors Write on Friday.

 

TW & PW flyer GP 2016 for web

 

I am excited about all this year’s conference offers. And I do work really hard to present the opportunities in the most professional and best way possible. I even added a new Spread the Word page to the conference website. But sadly, in my effort to “market” the conference, I am convicted that I forgot the most important thing.

 

The 3-1/2 day conference in August does provide many opportunities to learn about the craft of writing and marketing, but it is the message – “His answer” – that is the most important Word that needs to be spread.

 

As Michael Gantt said in his keynote at last year’s conference and this year’s  Colorado Christian Writers Conference, “The Cross is the Main Thing.” I urge you to watch the video of his keynote and/or read the transcript.  I also urge you to subscribe to his blog at http://growinggodlyseed.com.

 

Yes, I’d really appreciate your help spreading the word about the August 3-6 conference, but the most important thing each one of us can and must do is to spread His Word, His answer.

 

Again, quoting Michael Gantt from the blog he posted today:

We are called to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven. We are called to magnify and glorify the matchless Name of Jesus. We are called to declare deliverance to the captives, healing to the broken, and to declare that forgiveness of sin is found in none other than Jesus Christ. We are called to bring the light of the gospel to our cities; to bind up the broken, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and to declare even in the face of Caesar the eternal decrees of God – That’s what we are called to do!

Yes, indeed, that is the Word we are called to spread. God help us to be found faithful.

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Discouraged face

Writing, rewriting, editing . . . It’s not easy to refine an idea into a publishable manuscript. And that is just the beginning! Then you need to determine  where to submit your writing and to persist in submitting again and again. It may become evident through this process that independent publishing is your best option. But how can you be certain?

Going to a writers’ conference will not only help you to gain critical knowledge about writing and publishing, it will also give you the opportunity to meet one-on-one with editors, agents, authors, and other professionals.

With FOUR free 15-minute appointments (FIVE for the first 75 who register for all three days), no conference provides more opportunities than the May 11-14 Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the August 3-6 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. But with a faculty of over 50 at each conference, how can you be certain you’re making the best choices?

The helpful steps below will equip you for your conference experience, wherever that might be.

1. PRAY!

If you want to know what God wants you to do,
ask him, and he will gladly tell you,
for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply
of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it.
James 1: 5 TLB

2. Review the 79 genres/topics on the Editorial Needs Charts that our amazing Appointments Coordinator, Barb Haley, has painstakingly compiled based on responses from our Colorado faculty.

Ed Needs p 2 NF

Sample page. Click here for a PDF of the entire 9 pages that is readable.

3. Study the bios of the editors and agents who are interested in what you are writing and study any additional info about their editorial needs that accompanies their bio. (Note: Bios of the agents and other professionals will be added to the website soon.)

4. Visit their website and carefully read their guidelines for writers.

5. Keep in mind that your best option may be to meet with an author. If you do not have a manuscript or concrete idea to discuss, we recommend that you request appointments with authors. An author can help you evaluate the readiness of your manuscript for publication. Barb has also prepared a 9-page chart of “Areas of Expertise.” 1-14. Author bios will be added to the conference website soon.

6. Consider the option of a 30-minute paid critique. Yes, Barb has also created a 9-page chart (click here) for paid critiques. For even more info, including length parameters, that there is room on the chart to provide, click here.

My paid manuscript review gave me the most thorough
and helpful manuscript review I’ve had to date
.
Clement Hanson

7. Prepare for your appointments using the tips you’ll find by clicking here.

Finally, pray some more – but not desperate “please, God” prayers. Instead surrender your work – your words – to the Lord and trust that He knows the plans He has for you and for your writing.

 
Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for GOD‘s voice in everything you do,
everywhere you go; he’s the one
who will keep you on track.

Don’t assume that you know it all.
Proverbs 3:5-7 MSG

Stay tuned for exciting updates about the August 3-6 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference as the details fall into place.

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Ava PenningtonGuest post
by Ava Pennington
Co-captain, Appointment Desk

Banner 2015 GPCWC

The first time I attended a Christian writers’ conference, I was reminded of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Not just any buffet, but one whose tables overflowed with lobster and filet mignon.

That four-day conference was packed with continuing classes, workshops, resources available for purchase, and free resources, too. What amazed me most were the opportunities for appointments with acquisition editors, agents, and successful, multi-published authors.

Although I was grateful for those meetings, I was also terrified. Would I say the wrong thing and be branded as a hopeless novice? Or would I be able to make the most of each opportunity?

Here are 7 lessons I learned from those experiences as well as from my experiences on the other side of the table…

  1. Be prepared

Research the people you will meet. Learn their editorial needs or areas of expertise. Check the Faculty-at-a-Glance page or the summary spread sheet for details about the 53 authors, editors, and agents serving on the faculty of the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

Preparation also includes ensuring your writing sample is the best it can be. Edit for punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. Remember, your written work represents you!

  1. Follow directions

Follow directions regarding what and how to submit. Did you review the guidelines regarding length and format? Did the agents and editors say they were interested in your genre?

Following directions in advance of your meeting is also good practice for submissions after the conference.

  1. Don’t be surprised by differing responses.

Opinions will be as varied as the people you meet. One agent might not be interested in your work, while another will be enthusiastic. The first agent might already be representing a similar manuscript. The second agent might have recently spoken with an editor seeking books similar to yours. Don’t be surprised—or discouraged—if your appointments offer differing responses to the same manuscript.

  1. Develop a thick skin.

One of the most difficult things writers learn to do is pour themselves into their work, then listen to someone else’s critique without taking it personally.

As writers, we can be our own worst enemy if we become argumentative and defensive about our work. Remember, you don’t have to implement everything that’s suggested. But at least consider what you hear, pray about it, and compare the comments to what other objective people say (not including your mom).

One thing not to say is “God told me to write this.” The editor might be tempted to answer “God did not tell me to publish it!”

  1. Be open to God’s detours

Your heart may be set on writing a book, but an editor may tell you the content is better suited for a magazine article—or a series of articles—instead. Or maybe you wrote a picture book, only to be told that it would make a terrific story for a children’s magazine.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you must change your project. But consider and pray about what they say. Keep in mind the average book now sells 250 copies, while the circulation of some magazines can number in the tens of thousands. It’s easy to see which one will give you a greater audience.

One other thing I’ve learned in staffing the appointment desk is that God’s detours sometimes include having you meet with someone other than who you requested. Don’t despair—you may very well be pleasantly surprised. Last year at the GPCWC, one conferee was unable to meet with her first choice, but the appointment we scheduled for her turned out to be the person she needed to meet. Trust God’s sovereignty over your writing…and your meetings. He’s in control and He loves you. There’s no better combination.

  1. Follow through

You may find this next point difficult to believe. After the conference, conferees frequently fail to send manuscripts requested during an appointment. If the agent or editor asks you to send your work, do it!

During the conference, keep a list of what agents and editors ask you to send. Did they request a query? A full proposal? A complete manuscript? Send it!

Last, but not least…

  1. Enjoy your meetings!

The editors, agents, and authors you’ll meet at GPCWC are looking forward to meeting you. They’re friendly and yes, they’re human—just like you. We all have the same goal—to use our abilities to glorify God and bless His people. So enjoy your appointments!

For more information on preparing for your appointments, check out the

Appointment Preparation page of the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference website. Conference Director Marlene Bagnull has included lots of helps to assist you in having successful appointments.

While you’re at the conference, stop by and say hello. I’ll be at the Appointment Desk and will be happy to meet you and answer your questions!

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Have you ever said, “If only someone would sit beside me and help me figure this out”?

I have! All too often I am overwhelmed by the learning curve. I’d love to be able to sit in all of the clinics at the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, but I’m too busy directing the conference. The clinics aren’t recorded so I can’t listen to them after the conference. Even if they were available on CD, it wouldn’t be the same as being there and getting help with my projects and questions. And I do need help!

*~*~*~*

Karen Whiting from FB 3Develop a Unique Marketing Plan for Your Book with Karen Whiting
I know I’ve not done a good job marketing my books. That’s sad. My Turn to Care – Encouragement for Caregivers of Aging Parents is a needed devotional book. For Better for Worse – Devotional Thoughts for Married Couples is also needed but it’s out of print the same as two other books I worked so hard to publish. I need to get them back in print, but what I really need first is time with Karen Whiting to develop marketing plans that will work. Vicki Chandler, a clinic participant, says, “In three days, Karen helped me create a detailed marketing plan. She’s the Michelangelo of marketing.” You can read more about Vicki’s experience in Karen’s clinic at http://bit.ly/1K0EL7z.


Get Them Coming to Your  Blog/WebsiteMegan Breedlove cr
with Megan Breedlove
I spend a lot of time on blog posts and my three websites but not near enough time on learning the secrets of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and choosing (and using) effective keywords. I need the help Megan is going to provide. See Megan’s post, “How Do I Get to Be #1 on Google?” at http://bit.ly/1KXn9fR.


Jeanette WindleHook that Editor Book Proposal Clinic
with Jeanette Windle
Writing a book proposal is not fun or easy! Although I have written proposals that have resulted in contracts, I know Jeanette’s input would strengthen my proposals. And unlike the other clinics, I’d only need to miss three workshops to attend the nonfiction or fiction clinic. Jeanette is an award-winning novelist, missions journalist, editor, and collaborative writer. She represents Kregel Publications.


Fiction Intensive
with Nancy RueNancy Rue 2014
Someday I’m going to write a novel. When I do, there is nobody’s help I would value more than Nancy’s. I’ve never forgotten the day long clinic with Nancy that I sat in on over ten years ago. Wow! Christy Distler, one of last year’s participants, says it better than I can: “Nancy has a wonderful way of connecting with each writer she works with, her feedback is honest and yet kind, and her sense of humor makes the classes not only enlightening but also a fun fellowship with other writers.”

*~*~*~*

For more information about GPCWC’s cliics and the needed application go to http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/clinics. And do it now. The deadline for applying is July 15. And if you’ve not yet registered for the conference, I encourage you to do so before the late fee (I call it “the procrastinator’s fee”) kicks in July 16.

Banner 2015 GPCWC

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Megan Breedlove
How Do I Get to Be #1 on Google?
(And Why Do I Care?)
(Especially If I’m Not a Techie?)

Guest post by Megan Breedlove

We’ve all used Google to search for something.  You know how it works: you type in what you’re looking for, and Google comes up with a list of results.  Then you ignore the first several results and seek out the less popular ones….

Wait a minute; that’s not how it works!  Of course you are more likely to click on the #1 Google result, or at least one of the results on the first page.  Why?  Because you know that one of those is most likely to meet your needs.

Have you ever wondered how those particular websites make it up to #1 on Google so that they can get clicked on thousands or even millions of times?  Then this clinic is right for you!

But I’m not a huge company like IBM, you might be thinking.  I can never be #1 on Google.

Fortunately, you are mistaken!  Even writers with less than billion-dollar advertising budgets can increase their Google ranking, thereby making their sites more likely to get clicked on and drawing more traffic to their sites.

Whether or not you have an actual product to sell, you want your website—you need your website—to be right on up there in the Google rankings.  Why?  So that people can find your work—and so that publishers will know you have people paying attention to you.

You see, if your writing is good, but you have no “platform”—in other words, your web presence is relatively invisible—you may or may not get a contract.  But if your writing is good, and you have a visible web presence (that all-important “platform” again), you have a much better chance of a publishing house’s wanting to acquire your work.

When God gives us a message He wants us to get out, it’s true that He will help us spread the word.  But we have to be doing our best to work along with Him.

Attending this clinic is one of the ways to do that.  In the six hour-long sessions, you will be taught everything you need to know to get started on making your web presence more visible.  (Those who sign up for the clinic will also be able to contact me even after the conference is over in case they have further questions.)

What if you’re not a techie?  No problem!  We will start with the basics, and you will have plenty of opportunity to ask questions.  We’ll also give each person’s site individual attention in class, so that you can get a variety of perspectives from potential readers, as well as my instruction and advice.

If you’re not yet #1 on Google, you still have opportunity to increase your ranking.  Come to the clinic and learn how!
__________________

For more info about Megan’s clinic, “Get Them Coming to Your Blog/Website” at the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference click here.

Megan is an author, speaker, and website consultant whose website for more than four years has held one of the top two spots in Google search terms that receive thousands of hits each month. She is the author of Manna for Moms, Well Done Good and Faithful Mommy, and Chaotic Joy, all from Regal. Megan has also written for several magazines and websites, including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine, ChristianDevotions.us, DevoKids.com, and The Voice of Grace and Truth newspaper. Her website, www.MannaForMoms.com, offers weekly devotions for moms and receives thousands of hits each month. In addition to her writing and speaking to encourage moms, Megan works with Christian authors and ministries to help them improve their platforms so that they too can get their message out to the world.

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Vicki ChandlerGuest blog
by
Vicki Chandler

Confession time. The thought of marketing my picture book filled me with fear. But, I faced my fear. I read books about marketing. I got advice from other authors and editors. I took a stab at some strategies, which yielded few sales. Then, I, dissolved into tears.  I . . . I . . . I . . .

Heart EyesI’m acting like one of my former students. No wonder I’m crying over this new challenge. I’m stumbling along alone.  I need help!

The image came to mind of a little second grader during one of my cursive lessons.

“Mrs. Chandler, Bruce is crying,” reported a classmate.

Bruce had convinced himself that he’d never be able to write a cursive “T.” He’d given up.

I walked over to his desk and quietly coached him. With me standing beside him, giving him instructions, he finally wrote the elusive letter successfully because he didn’t give up.

That’s what I had done. I’d given up. What could I learn from Bruce’s experience? That there are people willing to stand by and help.

That’s what Karen Whiting’s “Develop a Unique Marketing Plan for Your Book” clinic at the July 29 – August 1 Greater Phily Christian Writers Conference will do for you.

When I reluctantly enrolled in her marketing clinic, I had no idea how much she’d help me. It’s sad how discouragement can lead to low expectations, isn’t it?

Let me elevate your expectations. She took me from “no way” to “Yay!” She stood by me with:

Resources: Tools were provided that helped us understand the content and organization of a good marketing plan.

Hands-on activities: Practice sessions gave us the opportunity to build our plans.

Customized Coaching: Individualized attention was provided, along with instant feedback.

Intelligence and Insight: Karen’s ability to understand everyone’s project was astounding. She effortlessly helped each participant craft a three-sentence description of their book.

In three days, Karen helped me create a detailed marketing plan. She’s the Michelangelo of marketing. Don’t miss your chance to have her help you create your own marketing masterpiece. Spaces are limited. So don’t delay!

For more info and the application go to http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/clinics.
___________________

To learn more about Vicki’s writing and speaking ministry and her picture book for children about bullying go to
www.hearteyes.net.

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