Saturday, October 29, 2011

Interviewing--and an Invitation to do Same

The guest speaker at our writers' group this month discussed interviewing and related it to writing, so from my notes--and thoughts--here are a few things to think about.

First of all, WHY do an interview? For information, of course. Asking questions is the best way to learn.

WHERE do you conduct an interview? At one time, the only choice was to do it in person. Now we have a choice of the "live" interview, telephone, live chat, or email. If choosing either of the first two venues, permission to record (mechanically) is important. I was interviewed by someone from the local newspaper a few months ago. When we sat down, she flipped on a hand-held recorder. I liked that, knowing that my exact words would be a matter of record. Also, because she wasn't busy trying to write everything down, the interview was more like a friendly conversation and put me more at ease.

Finally, HOW does one conduct an interview? It's important to know something about the subject beforehand. That means doing your homework with some research. If it's an on-site situation, the interviewer can pick up clues from the surroundings--pictures, knick-knacks, trophies, books, and so on. It's important to have a list of more questions than there is probably time for--but ask the most pertinent questions first.

Always make sure the interview shines with a positive light--that is, the interviewee knows he won't be hit with a hatchet job. And, of course, always respect privacy and confidentiality. Anything said "off the record" stays that way.

In considering how I, as a writer, might use the interview, the blog interview rose to the top of the list. Below is the interview I created, keeping to the theme of the blog which is Resources for Writers. I hope some or all of you who read the blog will choose to be featured here at The Word Place. Email your answers to

Resource Round-Up Blog

1.  What genre is the primary focus of your writing? Do you write anything else?
2.  Where do you publish?
3.  What is your most important and most frequently used resource as you write? (This does not
     necessarily have to be a print/online resource.)
4.  What resource has been the least helpful to you? Would you recommend it to another writer
     with a different focus?
5.  Do you consider a special writing place a resource? Why?
6.  Can you share a resource you are using/have used for a specific current/past work?
7.  Do you have any other resources you would like to share?
8.  Do you have a  secret resource that you would never share? (Think chefs and top-secret recipes!)

As always, please feel free to post covers and taglines of your books. Covers should be attached as jpegs.

I'll post these interviews as they are received and for as long as they come to my inbox.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Marketing Your Book for the Holidays

Janet Elaine Smith writes a regular column in The Writers' Journal on Marketing Helps. She's full of great ideas. Her column in the September-October issue is called "Try Being Crafty" and centers around selling books at holiday craft fairs.

Actually, someone recently suggested the local craft fair to me as a place to get my books out there. It is next month, and I expect it's too late to sign up for a table.However Ms. Smith's column has inspired me to at least go and inquire!

First of all, she reminds authors that books aren't typically sold at craft fairs, so the opportunity for sales is ripe. She suggests displaying articles relating to the subject matter of the book as good eye-catchers. Music works as an attention-getter, she says, as well as regularly-scheduled readings of selected passages throughout the day and perhaps a drawing for a prize at the end of the day.

I recommend buying the magazine for the full article. It's off the stands now, but I'm sure it's available as a back issue. She's multi-published, so take a look at her website. Also check out her Promo Paks: Nearly Free Marketing for Authors at  Unfortunately, it's not available for Kindle, and there are varying opinions as to its usefulness expressed in reviews, but it looks interesting to me.

A while back, a gift store here offered me the opportunity for a book signing during the holidays, so I'm thinking I'll take them up on it, perhaps incorporating some of Ms Smith's ideas.

How do you plan to promote your books during the holidays?

Judy Nickles

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gems from OCW at Eureka Springs

Just spent an enlightening three days at the Ozark Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs where the keynote speaker, award-winning author David Morrell (First Blood, The Brotherhood of the Rose, and many more), urged writers to find the dominant emotion which has made them what they are: it will become their subject matter. When I jotted down the several recurring themes in  my own writing, his meaning became crystal clear.

He also spoke about being aware of our daydreams, as well as what is happening to us and where it's coming from. Again, our subject matter springs from these understandings: it's where our imagination wants us to go.

He voiced an excellent mantra for writers: "I want to be a first-rate version of myself, not a second-rate version of someone else."

Gordon Warnock, Senior Agent in the Andrea Hurst Literary Agency, urged writers to actively educate themselves about the industry and their craft by attending conferences, becoming involved in a writers' group which will be honest about what is written and offer suggestions for improvement, reading industy publications and selected blogs, and joining appropriate writer organizations (RWA, Mystery Writers of America, for example). To choose a conference best suited to individual needs, he suggested 

He shared additional links for finding markets: The Writers Market (updated yearly), Duotrope, and Jeff Herman's Guide.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Promo No-No's

     Read an interesting article recently by a successful author who discussed how she acquired readers for her eBooks. She had some great ideas about being an online presence in as many ways possible, but it was what she didn't do that caught my eye: specifically, no conferences, book signings, or speaking.

     If that works for her, that's the course she should pursue, but I'd like to put in a few plugs for the rejected venues.

     Conferences are islands of opportunity for networking with other writers and learning all kinds of interesting tidbits about writing, publishing, promotion, and marketing. Sometimes you have an opportunity to pitch an agent or a publisher, and that pitch might morph into a contract. The biggest perk for me is the people I meet, whether for the first time or the dozenth. Someone once said/wrote, "I am a part of all that I have met," and it's true. People are our greatest resource. If they buy our books, great. If they tell someone else about our books, terrific. If they do neither, we're both still richer for the interaction.

      Book signings typically don't do well. I say typically, because some of them do net good sales under the right circumstances. But again, it's about people. I did a book signing once where I didn't sell a single book. It was late in the day, and I'd been placed in a rather out-of-the-way corner. But what I did do was have the opportunity to talk writing with a young person still in high school. I hope perhaps I gave her some good advice, but what I know I did was encourage her. She had my undivided attention and my assurance that she was a writer now and could be a writer in the future if that's where her dreams lay.

     As for speaking, I have to go back to that tired old word--people. Who knows if you'll touch a chord with someone? Maybe you'll even get the whole symphony playing in their souls! When I go to hear a speaker, I take out the ever-present notebook and write down all kinds of gems which find their way into my writing notebook.

     We all want to sell books, but there's so much more to being a writer. To trot out another cliche, "No man is an island." No writer is either.