Writer's Bloc
My SFWA Bulletin Column

Publicity in the Internet World

from The SFWA Bulletin #174, Summer 2007

Promoting to the XBox Live User

    Review copies? Book tours? Readings? Old hat. Not only are they too limited to reach the majority of readers, they are controlled by the publisher rather than the author.

    Isabel Howe wrote about authors using the Internet to reach readers directly in her article, "Publicity: The Personal Touch," in the Spring 2007 Authors Guild Bulletin. One of her prime examples is the science fiction thriller writer, Scott Sigler.

    Sigler's website lists his e-mail address, his Skype, Yahoo and AIM user names, links to his Facebook and MySpace pages (where he has 6,750 friends), and even his Xbox Live user name. Signer chats to 50 people a day using Instant Messenger because "blogging and Instant Message are two things that really let you interact with your audience." His 2005 novel Earthcore was originally released in 20 serialized podcast episodes and pulled in 10,000 subscribers, a number he tripled with his latest novel, Ancestor. That book was the first podcast novel to be picked up by Sirius Satellite Radio.

    Howe is a fan of using MySpace to connect with readers.

      Through its network of "friends," MySpace forges a multitude of reciprocal connections between "profiles" linking friends and loved ones, and celebrities and normal folk…. Authors who list themselves on MySpace and take the time to browse their reader-friends' profiles… get to know their fans in a way that a mid-20th century author would have found unimaginable….

      [George Ellis] has over 4,000 MySpace friends, many of whom he acquired with Friend Adder software. Most MySpace users invite people to become friends one at a time with a simple message that can be accepted, ignored or deleted, but Ellis was able to search profiles based on specific keywords and send out hundreds of invitations to become his friend simultaneously. He regularly sends "Bulletins" to his 4,000 friends and claims that after each "blast," he notices a "mini bump" in his rankings on Amazon.com….

      And authors en masse now have a home of their own on MySpace, the "Authors of MySpace" profile created by fantasy writer R. M. Hamilton to promote newly released books and advertise author appearances. For now it is largely sci-fi, fantasy and horror-centric.

    Donna Andrews turns the mirror upside down in "Walking the Walk: how not to shoot yourself in the foot while promoting your book," in the April 2007 TTD.

    Her don'ts include spamming (better to ask people if they want to receive your newsletter or other material); microphone-hogging at panels (amuse, enlighten and charm the audience rather than droning on and on); and list-hogging by posting the same press release to a number of lists or even putting all your credits and upcoming events into your rudely-overlong signature.

    She also quotes others in the industry with their suggestions of what not to do:

      Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy reports that one of her pet peeves is when authors create promotional materials that state on them "buy the book from Amazon / B&N / Wal-Mart" -- and expect them to be accepted anywhere.

      "We might get an e-mail, looking as if it came from a patron of the library, urging us to buy a certain book," Doris Ann Norris, semi-retired Ohio librarian reports. "Only it's not one of our patrons."

      "Sending out blanket requests to a mass quantity of authors for blurbs -- especially when you don't know them -- is bad form," according to [author] Robin Burcell.

Mobile Libris

Having trouble luring fans into bookstores for signings? Why not bring the store to them? The "RWR News" column in the June 2007 RWR took notice of a March 5, 2007 article in Publishers Weekly, "Thinking Beyond the Bookstore: Hybrid Independents," by Judith Rosen, detailing yet another innovation in promotion.

Mobile Libris (www.mobilelibris.com) is Sharon Preiss' brainstorm. She has 10 part-time booksellers that set up mini-bookstores for three to six events a day. The KGB Bar writers' events use her carts to sell books, and so do venues as varied as the New School Writing Program and the Brooklyn Public Library. Preiss is considering franchising her concept.

She already has competition, such as Levi McConnell Multimedia (www.levimedia.com), which sells books at private parties and for meetings of organizations like the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, and Kim Ricketts Book Events (www.kimricketts.com) in Seattle and San Francisco. Ricketts claims that "By bringing books to where the customers are, she finds that she can raise the average sale at an author event from 10% of the audience to 50% to 80%." The problem is getting publishers to get beyond traditional venues.


The first Cybils, the Children's and YA Bloggers' Literary Awards, were awarded in February for 2006 books.

Susan Salzman Raab's "To Market" column in the March-April 2007 SCBWI Bulletin quotes Anne Boles Levy, the official "spokesblogger" for the awards as saying that 500 nominations were made by more than 75 bloggers, although anyone can nominate books.

A panel of bloggers pare the nominees down to a short list, from which a second group of judges – librarians, teachers, homeschoolers, authors, illustrators, and others – determines a winner. There are eight categories: Fantasy and Science Fiction; Graphic Novels; Non-Fiction – Middle Grade and YA; Middle Grade Fiction; YA Fiction; Fiction Picture Books; and Poetry.

The winner for Fantasy and Science Fiction was Ptolemy's Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3) , by Jonathan Stroud, Hyperion: Miramax.

The Cybils website (dadtalk.typepad.com/cybils) said of Stroud's book:

    Ptolemy's Gate receives the first Cybils for Fantasy and Science Fiction for its richly imagined fantasy world, strongly realized and unique characters, delightful language and well-honed plot. As a concluding volume of a trilogy, it delivers everything a final volume should do, taking the story arc to its peak with a climax that is both action-packed and emotionally charged. At the same time, Ptolemy’s Gate stands alone as a story and will inspire readers, children and adults alike, to seek out the previous installments and revisit the world of Bartimaeus over and over again.

Levy said that, "We're also hoping to have award stickers to give to winning publishers for their books and an award trophy to give to the winners." According to Raab:

    Children's publishers have been quick to respond to the awards, which have a built-in publicity and marketing system announcing award winners across the "kidlitosphere" blog community and providing links to purchase the books.

Nominations are now open for the 2008 awards, which will honor 2007 books.

Support the Literary Papers Bill

The Authors Guild sent out a reminder to all its members that the "Artists-Museum Partnership Act" is once again alive in Congress.

    For seven years, the Authors Guild has supported proposed changes to the tax code that would allow authors and artists to deduct for tax purposes the appraised market value of their own work (such as manuscripts, first editions, or research notes) that they donate to museums, universities, and libraries. Current tax laws permit the creators to deduct only the value of the materials used in creating the work, such as the expense of the paper and ink in the case of an original manuscript. Collectors and others, however, are permitted to deduct the fair market value of donated manuscripts.

    The "Artist-Museum Partnership Act" was recently reintroduced in the House and Senate to correct this inequity. In the Senate, the bill was introduced as S. 548, in the House, H.R. 1524. The legislation has solid bipartisan support, but we need more co-sponsors. The Guild asks that you contact your senators and representatives and urge them to sponsor the bills.

    If you can, it's best to send your letter by fax -- it will get more notice than an e-mail. To find your legislators' fax numbers, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. The operator will forward your call to your legislator's office. You may also find your legislators' fax numbers at their web pages; please follow the instructions in the next paragraph to find your legislators' official web sites.

Markets Outside the Box

Cyndi Myers gives a listing of European magazines that accept f&sf stories in the July 2007 NINK. They're taken from Doug Smith's Foreign Market List (geocities.com/canadian_sf/smith/foreign_market_list.htm). Myers reminds you to enclose a self-addressed envelope and two International Reply Coupons (IRCs) if the magazine insists on hard copy submissions.

    Faeries, French, wants fantasy fiction of all types up to 10,000 words. Pays $100 for one-time French rights. Hard copy submissions only. They do the translation. Send to: Nicolas Cluzeau, English Submissions Editor, NESTIVEQNEN, 67 cours Mirabeau, 13100 AIX-EN-PROVENCE. Futura, Croatian monthly, accepts f&sf and some horror. $30-50 per story. Email submissions to: irodalom@galatikamagazin.hu

    Nowa Fantastyka, Polish monthly, wants f&sf. English guidelines: fantastyka.pl. Click on "In English." Email submissions to Pawel Ziemkiewicz, Foreign Rights Manager: pawelziemkiewicz@fantaskyka.pl.

Another potential market was listed in Connie Epstein's "Publisher's Corner" column in the May-June 2007 SCBWI Bulletin.

    Michael Dahl, Acquisitions Editor of Stone Arch Books. 100 fiction titles to be published this year, half traditional stories, half graphic novels, on subjects that especially appeal to boys aged 7 to 14. This includes science fiction. Unsolicited submissions OK, with query letters in advance or included with the manuscript. Payment is flat fee, $1200-1500 for first-timers, increasing with length and experience. Email: m.dahl@stonearchbooks.com. Regular mail: Michael Dahl, Stone Arch Books, 7825 Telegraph Road, Minneapolis MN, 55438.

Too Good Not to Share

Dale L. Walker gave a paean to reading in the April 2007 Roundup Magazine. His closing lines were:

    "There are no good writers who do not read. It's the reading." And he preceded that with a telling anecdote.

    A few years ago, in a Q&A session at a writer's workshop in Prescott, Arizona, I asked for a show of hands.

    "How many of you read fifty books a year?"

    (No hands)

    "Twenty books a year?"

    (Three hands out of an audience of thirty.)


    (Ten hands out of the thirty.)

    "Why aren't you reading more?" I asked.

    "I don't have time," was the common answer.

    "But you expect to become a writer?"

Organization, Publication, Address, Web Address

Authors Guild, Bulletin, 31 E. 32nd St. 7th Floor, New York, NY 10016, www.authorsguild.org/

Mystery Writers of America, The 3rd Degree (TTD), 17 E 47th St, 6th floor, New York, NY 10017, www.mysterywriters.org/

Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers’ Report, 14615 Benfer Rd., Houston, TX 77069 [new address], www.rwanational.org

Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Bulletin, 8271 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048, www.scbwi.org/

Western Writers of America, Roundup Magazine, MSCO6, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, 87131, www.westernwriters.org

Copyright 2007 by Steve Carper

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