Why you need to be famous

November 1, 2009

The following is my column from my November Inspirer newsletter, now in its seventh year. To subscribe and pick up a copy of ’50 Steps to a Book in Your Hand’ please go to my website www.joparfitt.com

I often tell my students and clients that they need to be Googleable if they are to impress a publisher. I recommend that they start a blog, give talks, use social media tools and go the extra mile towards growing their network. Publishers are interested in authors with a following. If you self-publish you need an even bigger network if you are to sell your book once you have written it. You need to be famous in your field. A bit of a celebrity. Whichever route you take to market it is clear that the bigger your network the more chance there is that your contacts will buy your books. Let me tell you about two people who do this brilliantly.

Andrea Martins, founder of the fabulous free website ExpatWomen.com, flew here to the Netherlands this week from Kuala Lumpur. A long haul in many senses of the word, but one that she felt was worth the effort. Andrea came to attend, have a stand and present a workshop at the Expatica, I Am Not a Tourist fair in Amsterdam. I went along to present a workshop of my own and to help out on her stand. The fair was attended by thousands and we talked ourselves hoarse, and yes, it was worth it. As a result, hundreds of people signed up to Expatwomen, a website that supports and inspires women overseas with its success stories, features, reviews and its hugely popular confessions section. Andrea also keeps an active blog that she uses simply to ‘shout out’ about people she meets or things she learns along the way that she knows will interest her thousands of subscribers.

I only went to the fair to help out, but Andrea allowed me to take my marketing materials along and so I made some pretty decent connections myself. One of whom was the hugely inspiring Melody Biringer, who runs The Crave Company and publishes books about the things women crave in the major cities of the world. She came to Amsterdam from her usual home in Seattle, to bring the concept here. Melody attended my workshop on writing life stories and within minutes had taken out her iphone and sent a tweet to her followers about me. Melody has sent over 6000 tweets to her 2000 followers since she joined Twitter just over a year ago. But in addition, within hours she had posted a blog about what she learned at my workshop too. And tweeted about that, of course.

Sorry, have I lost you? Are you wondering what the point of this may be? It’s simple . . . Andrea and Melody are role models. They want to promote their businesses to as many people as possible, use every means they can and their effort pays dividends. As a result both are well known in their fields. Let me just remind you what it is they do to deserve such status:

Ten Steps to Celebrity Status

1. Attend an expo or conference
2. Run a workshop at said expo or conference
3. Find places to hand out marketing materials
4. Have a website
5. Keep a blog
6. Use Twitter and other social media tools and share stuff regularly
7. Network like crazy both on and offline, talk yourself hoarse
8. Travel if you have to
9. Offer something that people want to sign up to
10. Share what you have with others

But do you really need to be famous if you want to write a book? Isn’t that a bit over the top? No, it isn’t. You see, two days ago I was sitting drinking a rather overstrong coffee in the office of a major UK publisher, in London, talking about the ‘front list’ – the books that are in the front of bookshops, newly published and being promoted like crazy.

’95 per cent of the front list is written by celebrities,’ he said, laying both hands on the table and looking me in the eye.

‘Seriously?’ I said. ‘You are exaggerating, right?’

‘Hum,’ he pondered for a split second. ‘Actually, this time of year, it’s closer to 100 per cent.’ He leaned back in his chair and I blanched. If bookshops favour the front list then publishers favour the front list ergo we need to be famous if we are to stand a chance.

So, there you have it, from the horse’s mouth. If you want to get published you need to become a celebrity, or failing that, just famous in your field. I hope my ten tips above will help to get you started.

Warmly

Jo

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The following article also appears in my monthly Inspirer newsletter, designed to inspire, support and inform writers. If you would like to receive your copy each month please sign up at my website www.joparfitt.com and pick up a copy of 50 Steps to a Book in Your Hand at the same time.

Here goes:

When it’s time to leave home

I’ll cut straight to the chase and tell you about the thing that has dominated my thoughts since my last newsletter. My son has left home. It was not unexpected. It was inevitable, anticipated, we were prepared. Last year he completed his A levels and the year before he had applied to university in London and been accepted. He started packing the moment he heard he’d got the grades he needed. But when it was time to wave him off, two days ago, it was no less heartbreaking for me. Sam, on the other hand, had a new life to lead, alone, without me to wash his clothes and check he had enough to eat. But even as we drove off through the streets of Islington, back to the Eurotunnel, I could not suppress a slight smile of recognition, that this sweet sorrow mirrors my life as a writer.

You see, they say that a painting, like a piece of writing, is never finished, it just stops in an interesting place. They say that there comes a time when the editing must stop. A time when you actually make things worse by over-refining them. A time when you have to let them go. There comes a time when you must admit you have done your bit leave your work to find its own way.

A couple of weeks before Sam left, I had a day when the enormity of the hole his departure would leave in my life and my nest kept creeping up on me, like the children tiptoeing behind me in a game of What’s the Time Mr Wolf? I had climbed into bed with sinking heart and picked up the copy of The Muses Among Us, by Kim Stafford, that lay on my bedside table. It opened on page 38. I read:

‘One day, it is time for the child to leave home. To remain longer would reverse the principle of healthy growth. That day comes when the child is mature enough to go out into the world, and the parent has other things to do. In the terrifying words of Donald Graves, we should not linger so long with a piece of writing that we begin “giving a manicure to a corpse.”‘

Since reading those lines my feelings about the departure of my firstborn became calmer. If could totally empathise with Stafford’s beliefs as a writer then it followed that if it was time to let go of my son, it was time to let go.

Back in May I had finally finished my novel and realized that it was time I stopped trying to improve it and let it go, too. I printed out a synopsis, cover letter and three sample chapters, put it in a padded bag and sent it out into the world. It is now doing the rounds of the agents. Sure, I keep thinking about it, missing the days I spent writing it, lost in a parallel universe with my characters. But I know I was right to let it leave home.

In my experience as a writer’s mentor, I have seen many instances where overworking ends up spoiling a very good piece of writing. Sure, you have to ‘murder your children’, as they say, and cut some of the best bits. Sure, you have to cut superfluous or empty words, repetition and to keep things simple. But there comes a time when you can cut too much and may have nothing left. I am also a firm believer in the principle that often the thing you think of first may be the best and that, as Hamlet says in the ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy: ‘the native hue of resolution //is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.’ It can be dangerous to think about something too much or too long.

And so, as I sit at my desk in the knowledge that we now have a spare bedroom again, I ask you to think about your writing, to let it flow, to try not to stunt its growth and to recognise when it is time to let it go.

Jo

If you like this, and would like more of the same, take a look at the Publishing Academy, where I am a faculty member. It is packed with information and inspiration for writers, just like this.

Over the last few years I have found more than 10 authors for this great series for Kuperard. Now, they want to update their India book, can anyone help?

Please contact me in the first instance.

AUTHOR WANTED

Kuperard’s Culture Smart guides are short introductory books that alert
first-time visitors to the values and attitudes of different countries. They
do not duplicate the hard information given in conventional guidebooks but
rather focus on the human dimension, on a country’s culture, so as to enable
foreign visitors both to be understanding guests and to get the most out of
their visit. They tell you how people see themselves, and why, and something
of their history, their collective experience, their manners, their private
and their working lives. They steer you through various situations, helping
you to avoid awkward gaffes and misunderstandings.

There are seventy-four titles in the series so far, which has had good
reviews in The Observer, Sunday Telegraph and New York Times. The books have
appeared on CNN’s Travel website, and have featured on BBC World’s weekly
travel programme “Fast Track”. There is more about them on our website:
http://www.culturesmartguides.co.uk.

Kuperard plans to publish a completely new volume on India next year. The
book will follow an established series format, and the text will be between
28,000 and 30,000 words long. The fee is £1,000, payable half on receipt and
acceptance of the ms, and half thirty days afterwards. The ideal author is
an English-speaking expatriate who has lived in the country for some time
and is thoroughly well versed in the local culture.

If the idea of writing Culture Smart! India appeals to you, please contact Jo Parfitt in the first instance.

60 New Books in 2009 – Do You Know Anyone Who Wants To Be Published?
——————————————————————–
My publisher, Bookshaker, plans to dramatically increase its publishing output in 2009 while being able to keep our eye firmly on marketing and writing new books too. So if you know anyone who’d like to be published or get an existing (and good) ebook in print and selling via Amazon then please email Debbie here.

They are looking for very specific non-fiction books at the moment:

1. Lifestyle Design – early retirement, wealth creation, travel, time/money management

2. Sales and Marketing – for coaches, consultants, entrepreneurs, startups etc. that
are in line with their http://www.leanmarketing.co.uk principles and approach.

They pay a royalty that is at least twice as much as mainstream publishing.

Or would you like to be an editor and make 20% on all sales? If you’ve got the skills and would like to apply to be an editor for other people’s books yourself (or you know editors) then complete the form here to find out more about the deal…

They are still taking on new authors for their Spain books – with 7 currently in the pipeline
– so if have written/are writing a book on Spain then please look them here
instead…

Good luck

Authors needed

September 16, 2008

Yet again my publisher client needs authors. This time for two books.

One is a glossy coffee table book, on world festivals, and is very research based. Perfect for an aspiring travel writer. 50,000-60,000 words

The other is about how to be a guest at different religious ceremonies worldwide. Also research based, but it would help if the author knew about world religions. Maybe 30,000 words.

Both books pay a one off payment only. The publisher is based in London.

If you think you may be interested please contact me here at the blog or by email.

Jo