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
- 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
- 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 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.