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Mom Knows Best: Mom's Choice Awards

September 14, 2009

Weekly Tip 210The submission deadline for the Mom's Choice Awards® is just around the corner, so if you want to get the attention of the parents and educators of the world, listen up!

Authors of parenting guides, children’s books, and young adult novels know how beneficial a publicity campaign that strategically targets women can be. What better way to market your book to moms than to have an official Mom’s seal of approval? The Mom's Choice Awards represent a mark of distinction that parents, teachers, librarians, and booksellers trust when selecting quality, family-friendly materials.  Winning a Mom’s Choice Award is not only an honor for an author, but it brings its winners added benefits for their marketing and publicity campaigns, such as product reviews posted to Amazon.com and BN.com, a national media release, cooperative advertising opportunities, promotional opportunities at BookExpo America and ABC Kids Expo, product promotions via the Mom's Choice Awards website, great discounts on radio, television, and print campaigns, and much more!

The entry deadline for this year’s awards is October 1, 2009. All published books with copyright dates of 2007 to 2010 are eligible. Click here for more detailed information and entry guidelines.

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Walk the Line: Seven Guidelines on Genre and Market Trends

September 10, 2009

johnnycashThis article is a tribute to two people: Johnny Cash, who has forever given us a tune by which to walk the line, and to the publishing professionals who deal on a daily basis with the interaction of genre and market. Okay, so it’s a tribute to many, many people.

The question on genre and trends comes down to this: as a first-time author, should I write based on what genres or styles are popular now, or should I create something original and hope it appeals to a large audience?

The frustrating, but generally true, answer is a little of this, a little of that. There are a few guidelines that can assist you in making the choice of what to write, but they are guidelines only. Very few things are hard-and-fast in this industry. But as an unknown writer, consider these things:

  1. Choose one genre. You have a dozen ideas in as many genres? That’s wonderful. Now choose one. Yes, just one. You may not decide which one it is until after writing a couple of books and getting a feel for your style and strengths and even interests. But it is very rare to successfully cross genres, and then only once you’ve established yourself in one. When you query agents or publishers, choose your best writing. Be honest.Read Rachelle Gardner’s “Ask the Agent: Writing in Multiple Genres”: http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2009/02/ask-agent-writing-in-multiple-genres.html
  2. Be passionate about your genre. The last thing you need to do is pick a ‘popular’ genre that you really could care less about and try to write that genre. Readers can sniff out ignorance and apathy from a mile away. Especially if it’s nonfiction, but most certainly in fiction as well. If science-fiction or paranormal romance or political thrillers aren’t your cup of tea, don’t try to write them because they’re ‘hot’ or selling well.Read Alan Rinzler’s “Finding Your Voice”: http://www.alanrinzler.com/blog/2009/03/22/ask-the-editor-8-tips-for-finding-your-voice/
  3. Consider your genre’s audience. Even once you have a genre in mind—be it historical romance or urban fantasy or dystopian sci-fi—you haven’t yet cleared the hurdle. You must understand the audience of these types of books. What are they interested in reading within the genre? What do they like and dislike? Do your research: find out their favorite blogs, magazines, websites, TV shows, etc. All will give you ideas for formulating your book to match their expectations.Read through the posts of the Query Shark, who looks first and foremost for who is going to read this book: http://queryshark.blogspot.com/
  4. Know the genre of bestsellers, past and present. Take a look at the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, as well as bestselling books on Amazon.com or at your local bookstore. A few years worth of data (which can often be found in easy, condensed form) will tell you the current trends, last year’s trends, and so on, and so forth. You need to be knowledgeable about those trends, and once you are, certain patterns will emerge. Some books don’t go out of style, or have metamorphosed over the years but remain essentially the same content.Read Agent Kristin’s “Market Savvy”: http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2007/03/market-savvy.html
  5. Target agents or publishers who specialize in your genre. I’ve seen agents and publishers complain about this time and time again: authors who don’t do their research and blindly submit or query to multiple people in hopes of getting a yes. There are people or companies who focus on certain genres. Because they do so, they know more about the market, about how to package and how to sell, and these are your best bets as an unknown author. Read Colleen Lindsay’s “Query Dissection”: http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2008/08/query-dissection-kelly-gays-better-part.html
  6. What once was, may not be again (for a while). You know what’s hot. Twilight. James Patterson. [Insert celebrity confessional here]. Business books with clever titles by crazy-haired men. But that’s today and today is, especially now, ever-more fluid and changeable when it comes to what genre or style the audience has a taste for. A certain predominant genre will certainly influence the market for a few years, but not forever. Consider that books can take from 12 to 24 months to be published and enter the marketplace, and this is after you’ve found an agent or a publisher. Think about that timeline. Will your book still be timely, relevant, excite peoples’ interest?Read Rachelle Gardner’s “What’s In, What’s Out”: http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/search/label/Trends
  7. Be original. The popular saying is that no idea is original, and that may be so. It’s all about execution—especially when you’re writing in a trendy genre, and especially when there may be similarities between storylines, characters, concepts etc. Angst-filled vampire teens? A cook’s experience in France? Freaky economics? Readers don’t want the pale pastiche of a beloved book. They want a familiar subject recreated into something entirely new. And as for creating an original genre—do try to avoid this. It happens very rarely. You’ll find that most of your ideas fit into one particular genre or sub-genre.Read Nathan Bransford’s “On Concepts”: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/04/on-concepts.html

Again, these are only guidelines with which to help you walk the line of the genre you write and the market you write for. You have to find the most comfortable balancing act between the two.

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Big Bad Weekly Tip: Social Networking Timesavers

September 8, 2009

Weekly-Tip-2101If you've started to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) for book promotion, which we recommend for most authors in varying degrees, you may find yourself wondering how you’re going to keep all of your profiles updated. As you start to add additional networks, posting the same thing in multiple places can begin to feel tedious and burdensome. Not to worry—there are, of course, online tools that can help you manage your online tools. Here are some free tools that allow you to easily post a single message to multiple social media accounts all at once:

For more information on the capabilities of these types of tools, check out this article from Computer World. Don’t let your online networks get the best of you!

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The Importance of Font: IKEA and Verdana

September 4, 2009

200px-Ikea_logo.svgIn case you missed it, the Internet went mad last week when IKEA, the design-savvy Swedish furniture manufacturer, switched the font used in its catalog from Futura, which it had used for over fifty years, to Verdana, a font that was created by Microsoft for reading on a computer screen—and which many contend does not work at all in print. Twitter and the blogosphere exploded with viral disgust over the decision, and design consultant Marius Ursache started a petition asking IKEA to drop the font, eventually gathering over 3,000 signatures. Today, Twitter is still buzzing with re-Tweets about the petition posted by font nerds and remarks like this one from @dvdwlsh: "This honestly HURT me to read. IKEA DESTROYS element of its identity." (There is, however, a backlash to the backlash; @idrathernot says: "futura is a pretentious snob! long live verdana, the workers' font! #ikea #iheartverdana".)

IKEA has responded that it believes the backlash comes mainly from typography experts, and that the general public doesn't really notice this type of thing. But that discounts how widespread the displeasure about the Verdana switch is, and the subconscious effect that design details can have even on typography illiterates. We've mentioned that this type of thing is important before. Here's a great case in point. Your book may never achieve the distribution levels of the IKEA catalog (it is often advertised as the most widely printed book in the world), but do pay attention to font—and never, ever, ever use Papyrus.

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Greenleaf Book Group in Forbes magazine

September 2, 2009

imagesWe're excited! We have a full-page article in the September 7 issue of Forbes (p. 58). In addition to featuring a shot of our CEO, Clint Greenleaf, sitting among a jumbled pile of books sans footwear, the article describes how our model works—and how it is competing with the big, traditional publishing houses. You can pick up a copy of Forbes at the nearest newsstand, or just check it out online.

The article also mentions that we've been hiring (even as many others were laying off), and that we plan to continue adding valuable people to our team. If you're interested in learning more, drop on by workatgreenleaf.com.

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