Wednesday, August 1, 2012

11 WOW Wednesday: Nicola Furlong on Promotion that Begins with a Killer Query


Today's guest, Nicola Furlong, writes mystery novels, develops interactive children's books for the iPad, blogs about and publishes e-books (epubbing.com), creates podcasts about genre writing (The Novel Experience) and produces book trailers...when she's not playing hockey, growing blue poppies or eating chocolate fudge. She has also written a gardening guide for the West Coast and has adapted two of her novels to screenplays; both were optioned for television. She lives in small town on southern Vancouver Island, but you can catch her at her website: www.nicolafurlong.com and at: www.epubbing.com.


 Promoting Your Book Starts with Your Query

by Nicola Furlong

One of the most rewarding parts of being a professional mystery writer is helping aspiring writers get published. I teach a variety of writing courses at a local college and interview other published authors to discover their tips and tricks of the storytelling trade as part of my podcast, The Novel Experience.

Today, I thought I would highlight the key elements of two areas of every writer's life that are always top of mind: Query letters and Marketing.

Writing Killer Queries

Writing good queries is hard; it's both art and craft. A strong query is:
  • An advertisement for your book
  • Brief
  • Punchy
  • Personalized for a specific editor or agent
  • Hooks reader's interest
  • Writing style suits the book
  • Leaves reader wanting more

The four basic elements of a killer query letter are:
  • First Paragraph:
    Opening line pitch: two sentences or so that hooks reader's interest, written in the style of the book.
  • Second Paragraph: 
    Three to five sentences providing more information about the main character and his/her character arc, the central plot and the length and style of the book.
  • Third Paragraph: 
    Two to three sentences about you, such as your qualifications, the reason for writing the book, the possible audience/markets for the book and why you are the one to write and how you plan to promote it.
  • Final Paragraph: 
    Two sentences to ask if they wish to receive sample chapters or the entire manuscript and to thank them for their kind consideration.

Six Clues to Self-Promotion

Competition’s fierce, so you’ve got to have F.L.A.R.E.:
  • Fresh, original
  • Loud: both voice & appearance
  • Articulate for panels, interviews
  • Respectful to audience, reviewers, booksellers
  • Endurance to survive

You don’t have to have lots of money. Just follow my clues for shameless & successful self-promotion:

1)         Swallow Your Shyness & Be Bold. (Fake it if necessary!)
  • Must master public speaking, some acting helps
  • Start small: local clubs, book signings & build to Oprah
2)         Get Your Ducks in Order
  • Write a snappy press release for media & online
  • Get professional photo
  • Seek marvellous reviews & cover quotes
  • Invent an interesting bio; you’re a creative writer, remember?
  • Use hooks—like a book’s locale, where you live or work—to generate interest

3)         Get the Word & Book Out
  • Press releases online (e.g., Prweb & Prlog) & to local TV, radio, variety of newspapers
  • Review copies to review web sites/forums/chats, newspapers, bookstores, TV & radio
  • Create book trailer & upload
  • Create bookmarks, postcards, business cards or flyers with book information
  • Send to your mailing lists: bookstores, libraries, reporters, fans, relevant organizations
  • Give bookmarks etc., to friends, family, strangers
  • Write articles for related magazines, blogs & newspapers
  • Comment on relevant websites, blogs & newspapers

4)         Get off Your Duff
  • Scout out opportunities: readings, book clubs & guest blogging
  • Attend relevant tradeshows & sell books
  • Visit bookstores, offer to sign stock or do book signing
  • Join groups (local, professional, online) for information and promotional opportunities
  • Attend conferences & conventions; be a panellist
  • Teach others

5)         Wow the Web
  •   Email signature includes book info & buy link
  •    Entertaining & informative web site: excerpts, bio, reviews, places to buy books
  •    Blog your head off (Wordpress, Blogger, etc.)
  •    Attend chat rooms and social networking sites (Facebook, GoodReads, etc.)
  •   Join specialty list serves
  •   Share links with other web sites

And, last but not least:

6)         Wear Bright Colours & Funky Shoes
  • Something to chat about
  • Stand out & be noticed    
 I really hope that some of my ideas will help you realize your writing dream of getting published.

Nicola 

Nicola is the author of two stand-alone mysteries, six inspirational cozies from the Church Choir Mystery series, an iPad interactive children's book, a multi-media online thriller and two non-fiction writing primers.





11 comments:

  1. This is a fantastic post!! I'm sharing it.

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  2. Fabulous advice! Definitely bookmarking this one! :)

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  3. Ha! Wear bright colors and funky shoes...that's a new one to me! Thanks for the great advice. Like Jemi, I'm bookmarking it.

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  4. Wow, so much to do, but all needed. Thanks for organizing this info so nicely! Bullet points make me happy:)

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  5. Thanks for the great advice. You make the query sound so easy.

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  7. Thanks for the mention of PRWeb in your post! If you need some inspiration for promoting your book in a press release, you can see great examples here: http://www.prweb.com/newsbycategory/artbooks/

    And if you have any questions, feel free to tweet us on Twitter @PRWeb.

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  8. Holy Cow what a golden post. Bookmarking immediately. Blue poppies? I'm intrigued.

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. You had me until the 3rd paragraph. How do you fit all that into two or three paragraphs, never mind two or three sentences? Could you give us an example

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