“Should I let websites reprint my articles?” Kathy Carlton Willis on Author PR

Note from Laurie:   In a recent author discussion, I expressed frustration about articles scraped  from websites and pasted into other sites without permission. I was concerned for the nonprofit company I edit blogs for, whose goal is firm placement on page one of Google search for specific keywords. (Scraped content can confuse search engines. )

However, as an author you may find your work reprinted by bloggers who are simply delighted to find great material to share with their own followers. They may or may not ask permission, yet imitation can indeed be the highest form of flattery. So knowing that scraping happens, why not use it as a great tool? Allow it to spread your author name a bit more liberally around the internet?

In this guest post, Kathy Carlton Willis, publicist, author and coach at KCW Communications, offers you some great tips on how to encourage other sites to reprint your material. She points out that the more visible you are on the internet, the more likely you are to have clout with media, book reviewers and event planners.

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Article Placement: Intentional Use of Reprints and Guest Blogger Posts Online

by Kathy Carlton Willis:

 The Plan:

  • Write several 400-word articles on your core topics. Be sure to use a creative hook and take a fresh perspective with your pieces, so readers are more likely to share each piece.
  • Offer these articles as free article content for online e-zines, websites, and guest blogger posts.
  • Give directions for use of the reprint to create the best exposure. Supply them with:

 1) article text

2) a jpg of your photo so they don’t borrow one from online that isn’t your favorite pick,

3) an updated bio to ensure they don’t use a stale one they found on an old web page,

 4) a website link to encourage clicks to your site,

5) a legal reprint permission clause mentioning reprint rights are available to others who want to pick up the article.

  • Post the same material on document sharing sites, such as docstoc, Google Docs, etc.
  • Include links to the articles on your social networking sites (Twitter and Facebook). Others will pass along your links on their sites too.
  • You can also make these articles available for church bulletin inserts, newsletter articles, etc. Anywhere editors need content in print or online.
  • One example of this technique is posted here.

I’ve seen great success in expanding scope of reach through sharing article reprints. Be smart by equipping each article with a power-packed bio and a hyperlink to the author’s website. As others use your material, you’ll accumulate pages and pages of extra “credits” on search engines. Make sure your website is still seen on the first page of the search engines, by updating regularly and making sure other sites cross-link to your site.

Article placement allows us to connect with all of our audiences. As writers and speakers, we need to network with:

  • Media
  • Consumers/Audience/Readers
  • Retailers
  • Ministries/Churches/Speaking Venues
  • Reviewers
  • Bloggers
  • Social Media

If a contact from one of the above categories wants to check out your name on a search engine (like Google) to see if you have a good standing, they will like seeing pages and pages of search results. This gives you additional clout. Media will be more likely to book you if they see you have buzz online. Bloggers will want to invite you to be a guest blogger or to review your book. Event planners, consumers and others will contact you.

If you give them permission to use the full article, they are more likely to post the link on their social network sites like Facebook and Twitter. This gives you more possibilities to expand your platform, your tribe, whatever you want to call your scope of reach. If you only give permission for them to use the hook to the article and then link back to your original article, they are less likely to post a link on their social networking sites. We don’t want to make our readers jump through hoops (and extra links) to have to read our work. My motto is: you’ve got to give it away and it will come back to you! You will get more mileage.

For those of us who want to help out our fellow writers, if we are willing to simply post the hooks with “read more” and a link to the original sites, we help authors get more traffic on their sites. It’s a good thing. Another way to pay it forward.

What is your next step to offer free article content as a way to recycle your material and gain more exposure?

Kathy Carlton Willis serves as publicist, author and coach at KCW Communications. She shines, whether she’s shining the light on God’s writers and speakers, or reflecting God’s light during her speaking engagements. See: www.kathycarltonwillis.com

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“How does buying used books online hurt authors?”

By Laurie Winslow Sargent:

Most readers don’t realize how buying used books online can hurt authors.  Conversely, even a .99 Kindle copy can encourage your favorite author to keep on writing.  Near the end of this post, see 3 ways to help authors AND find reasonably priced books.

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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As a reader, I’m like anyone else. I want the best bargain I can find for the best books. Hey, I’m human.

Some books can be difficult to afford otherwise. I confess to buying hundred-dollar college textbooks used, then reselling them on Amazon Marketplace to replace our broken appliances, including my fridge that recently died.

If only I could find a used fridge selling for $0.00 for only one week, like those great Amazon Kindle deals.  I confess to jumping at those opportunities too. At least I try to review or Tweet about those $0.00 books at @LaurieSargent (if I truly like those books) to give the authors a little promo.

But I know my author friends would love to earn their own fridge money from actual book sales. And the honest truth is that you can often buy a new book directly from an author (often autographed, too)  for only a few dollars more than you would through an online marketplace and bless that author at the same time.

Here’s a little info on how book sales can hurt authors, which you may not know about:

Not one penny of a used book sale goes to the author or publisher. Usually they will never even know the book sold.

Most authors earn income from books in two ways:

a) Advances: An advance against royalties is usually just enough to cover marketing expenses and/or possibly help feed the family while the author writes then markets the book. Advances do not have to be paid back to the publisher, BUT

b) Royalties (a percent of the sale from each book) from each book sale are first deducted from the advance the author has already spent to help support her family. (An advance is an ‘advance against royalties’. )  A typical royaltyon a $17.00 book sold new through Wal-Mart nets the author around  thirty-nine cents. (Barnes and Noble, about $1.00) An author has to earn .39 from a LOT of books to reimburse the publisher for the advance.

So what happens to the author, when a book is purchased used, online?

  • It prevents authors from earning anything on that sale AND competes directly against the sale of a new book.
  •  It takes money away from those who own rights to the books (publisher or author) because they pay hefty fees every month to warehouse new copies and keep them ready for distribution.

NOW I understand why many publishers often put books OOP (out of print) even after only a few years, returning rights to the authors.

Lately I had three different acquaintances tell me how much they loved my books. I was thrilled to hear that, but a bit disheartened to learn they bought the books online used. I would never have known, had they not told me. And frankly, I would rather have GIVEN them the books.

Also, when my friends are done with my books, I desperately hope they will give my books away as gifts, instead of selling them online, because every additional used book online competes directly 1:1 against a corresponding new copy.

3 Ways To Help Authors AND Find Reasonably Priced Books

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1)   Consider buying the book new. Sometimes on sale (but still new) is only a few dollars more than a used copy. Or you can get an autographed copy directly from the author’s website. Not only will the author get a few cents, you may prevent that book from going prematurely out of print.  Sales numbers from bookstores influence whether or not an agent or publisher will be willing to take on the author’s next book. Enough readers buying new copies can influence the author’s career!

2)   If you want a book desperately and truly cannot afford one, try asking the author to give you a review copy. Then be willing to Tweet or Facebook about it if you like it.

3) Keep in mind that YES those .99-9.99  Kindle sales DO count as NEW! The author gets a tiny bit of income, knows about and can get excited about the sale, and the publisher is happy too and will want the author to write more books. (Do you know Kindle books can also be downloaded to computers, as Kindle for PC?)

By the way, if ONLY used copies for the book you want are offered on Amazon, the book may be out of print. BUT the author may still have new copies at her website. If so, she bought the copies from her publisher for resale, and getting the money back for those might make her day!

Remember–even the best-written books can go out of print when enough used books make it impossible for publishers to keep new copies in stock.

Now, if only college textbooks didn’t cost a hundred dollars apiece. Sigh. We’ll see how my conviction for helping fellow authors holds up when child #3 needs more textbooks. Hopefully there will by .99 versions by then. But if I can buy a $10 copy, when a $6 used book is available? I consider that a $4 gift to a hard-working author.

What is Takeaway Value in Writing?

By Laurie Winslow Sargent:

One common phrase used by writers, editors and agents is ‘takeaway value’ (also spelled ‘take-away value’).

It’s a critical key phrase/concept, which aspiring and advanced writers must consider for every article submission, every book proposal, even every blog post (that you hope strangers will like and share, anyway).

What is takeaway value? Here’s a clue: if I don’t give you at least a little right now, you’ll be highly annoyed with me. You want to know what that phrase means.

Answer: giving your readers something new to walk away with after reading your work, that will change them somehow.

You might offer takeaway for your readers to:

  • help them learn something new and interesting
  • make them laugh
  • make them feel better understood (you’ve been where they are now and survived)
  • give them concrete how-to: to build something new (be that a bird house, a relationship, or a book proposal)
  • give them new hope
  • lead them to great resources
  • motivate them to action (you can help point to what action): make a call, write a letter, start a movement

One takeaway for you reading this post of mine should be:

  • understanding new information (knowledge of writing terminology)

But I can’t  skimp on this. How does simply knowing what a term means help you? It doesn’t, much. You need additional takeaway. You want to know HOW it will help you sell your article or story to a magazine, get that book contract, or garner blog followers, right?

I assume that you want to:

  • understand how why takeaway is critical to selling writing

And to truly get it, I hope you want to know:

  • how to take a specific story or article of yours, improve it, make it most marketable, and help your readers

Here’s where I have to force you into a little introspection. Many writers write stories about incidents they found personally inspiring, or devastating, or unique. Then they cast it to the wind (AKA, cyberspace) hoping someone out there will be equally interested.

Online, you may indeed attract readers who accidentally find you via keyword searches. Yet your work is not done. Those readers are still asking, “What’s in it for me?” Will they finish your story? Return to read more of your stuff?  Have you offered self-absorbed rambling, or something they as a reader can benefit from?

And that’s to get readers to read a free blog post. What’s to make them want to pay for something you have written? Publishers will ask you the same thing. If you don’t offer your (their) potential readers takeaway value, your publisher won’t sell books. They won’t get back their investment in you. If it’s a magazine and they don’t meet readers needs, their reputation will go down and they’ll end up with displeased advertisers. They depend on you as a writer to give them material that will keep their readers asking for more.

A few examples…

While doing some freelance editorial work for one magazine years back, I was sent an article with a plea to do anything I could to fix it. The artwork was already scheduled, and the article assigned. The writer had promised in her a query many exciting tips. In the final manuscript, a few tips were great and many others ho-hum, common knowledge. The editor rightly feared that with too many articles like that, they might lose subscribers who wanted better takeaway value for their money. My solution as editor was to condense the article and pair it with two other stories and a sidebar in the same amount of space the original article took up.

One hard lesson I learned personally many years ago occurred when I wrote meaningful story (to me) about how I was comforted in the midst of a miscarriage, and why. (I wrote it for an editor to whom I’d sold a previous story.) My kind editor said that although she was glad for me, how would my story help another woman who had miscarried? It was one of those ah-hah moments, which forever influenced my writing.

Bringing it home

Your personal story of triumph or tragedy might have excellent elements in it, including interesting dialogue and scene setting, to put the reader in your place. But what do you leave them with, when the story is done?

If  told with impact, your message for your readers should be clear. Yet it may help them to be guided a bit, at the end. Give them some direction or offer an insightful summarizing comment or question for them to ponder. Or provide a list of resources or links, so they learn from you and continue their journey of exploration.

Take a fresh look at your current story idea. Who are you writing it for? What do you hope for them to get from it?

Next up: how to discern your target audience, so you can better anticipate reader’s needs and offer some takeaway to help meet those needs.

New Twitter Page for Christian Writers @Tips4C_Writers

This year I’ve enjoyed using Twitter as @LaurieSargent and have an interesting assortment of followers, from parenting experts to writers. However, since I always seem to be bursting with news and tips specifically for Christian writers, I now have a second  Twitter page, 4 Christian Writers at @Tips4C_Writers (You can see  my current Twitter feed in the Sell Your Nonfiction navigation bar on the right.)

I’ve been connected with people in the Christian writing industry for two decades now, and blessed by many writers, editors, agents and publishers.  Nearly every day some great new writing resource comes to me in an RSS feed, a blog subscription, or directly from one of hundreds of authors I know.

By nature, I’m a “connector”. I feel compelled to share great things that cross my path. I’ve put many on Facebook at  Laurie Winslow Sargent: Tips for Readers, Writers, & the Eternally Curious  and will continue to do so, but think Twitter may be handier for writers to access for quick tips and links.

Q. “How will @Tips4C_Writers benefit me as a writer?”

A: Two ways. You will find: 1. great companies, organizations and people who help writers (in the list of those I Follow, not necessarily those who follow me) and 2. helpful resources and links, in my tweets.

I hope to help writers find information from and about:

  • highly reputable agents
  • book publishers (mostly traditional, royalty publishers within the Christian Booksellers Association: CBA)
  • Christian magazines in print and online
  • a few marketing resources, specifically for writers
  • writing industry publications
  • Christian writing organizations, and
  • authors who teach other writers.

MY TWEETS INCLUDE:

  • writing tips
  • dates/locations for writing events (conferences & workshops)
  • tech tips helpful to writers
  • publisher news
  • anything else I think will benefit writers. I expect my followers to be aspiring, intermediate and advanced writers, or folks who share my love for encouraging writers.

Q. “Will you follow me back if I am an author?”

I will most likely follow you back at @Tips4C_Writers  if you yourself provide valuable help for other writers. (However, I don’t often follow back self-publishing companies, especially ones I’m unfamiliar with.)

However, at my other Twitter page @LaurieSargent, I DO follow back most authors, bloggers, and organizations who help me grow as a person or benefit my followers.  @LaurieSargent is also connected with my parenting blog, and there I follow parenting organizations, child advocacy groups, Christian ministries, educational resources, Christian authors with family-friendly books, some general parenting authors, and family oriented blogs/websites.

I hope you’ll visit @Tips4C_Writers and click on my Lists to see people and companies in the Christian publishing industry and follow my writing-related tweets!

Laurie

“How can writers meet editors in person?” Part II: Conference Connections

“What are some methods used at conferences to introduce writers to editors?”

When registering for a conference, you should be told exactly if–and how–you will get to meet editors, and how long scheduled appointments last.  Editors generally attend conferences to present workshops and/or join panel discussions with other editors, in large group sessions, to reveal current editorial needs to conferees. Some, in hopes of finding new and talented writers, allow authors to sign up for brief personal meetings. Those meetings are conducted in a variety of ways:

The Individual Pitch Appointment gives you 10-15 minutes to sit down with an editor to pitch a specific idea. Ideally, you have an elevator speech down pat to clearly present that idea.

Consider this a query in person vs. on paper: equally concise, but delivered with more enthusiasm and clarity. If the editor is interested, he will ask you to send a formal query to his office after the conference. If not interested, that may be painfully obvious. But hey–you save months of pacing in front of your mailbox, right?

You will usually sign up for appointments when you register for the conference or on the first day you are there.  Here are a few ways editor-writer meetings may take place:

The Manuscript (MS) Critique Appointment allows you to hear, in person, an editor’s comments about a manuscript you submit in advance. It’s a time to listen and learn from a pro.

Your registration fees may allow for one solid editorial critique, or you might have to pay extra for this. However, if your manuscript is particularly intriguing and a good fit for a magazine or book house, the editor might ask you to make an individual appointment to meet later.

MS critiques can also exhaust editors. They must devote time in advance to reading what you submit and may stay up late the night before doing so. Show your appreciation for the editor’s time. If  you see a yawn, it may not be a reflection of your writing ability!

The Group Query is less taxing on editors and makes better use of their time, but won’t be focused on only you. A small group of writers sit in a circle. Each has a little time to pitch their idea to the editor, in the presence of the other writers. If the editor is interested, she will ask to meet with you privately later.

The Pitch-Slam method is akin to speed dating: a technique I’ve seen at only one conference, with Writer’s Digest. The editor sits at a desk. Writers line up single file in front of him. One by one, you move to the front of the line. The instant you get there, you start your few minutes of fast talk to pitch your idea. When the timer goes off, you stop talking—even mid-sentence. You hand the editor your business card (if he wants it) then walk away. Yikes. Talk about pressure! However, as with other writer-editor meetings, if you spark interest you will be asked for a second meeting, perhaps at the same conference.

The Casual Chat is ideal. It’s not really a formal meeting at all. It’s simply a matter of editors and writers choosing to lunch together in the same dining hall, and letting the chips fall where they may. Some very inspiring conversations can happen this way.

This opportunity arises more often at smaller conferences where meals are shared in a common hall or at conferences at more isolated retreats. I’ve seen this more often at Christian conferences than secular ones, perhaps because of the “we’re all in this together” mentality and the focus on spiritual issues as well as business. Like-mindedness and a higher purpose for writing also tends to develop more camaraderie and less competitiveness among writers.

If you do have the opportunity to sit at a lunch table with an editor, you strike a delicate balance between eating and getting to know each other more casually. After all, he wants to eat too!

This is ideal when you don’t have a burning desire to pitch a specific project, but are interested in an editor, magazine or book house in general.  Or you may have an appointment set up, but simply want time to enjoy meeting the editor more casually. You simply enjoy interesting conversations unrelated to your own projects.

Later, when you do pitch ideas through the mail or email, you can refer to having enjoyed meeting them, if indeed you did and you truly clicked. This helps them connect your name with your face and personality.

Caution: if you are with a group, don’t monopolize the time. That’s what individual appointments are for. (Even in those, ask about, and listen to the editor, to find out about their own interests.) Also during community meals, get to know your fellow writers and encourage them. You may end up friends for life!

One of the best things about meeting editors in person is realizing they are simply people, like you and me: not to be feared nor unnecessarily revered.  They do need their time and energy valued, just as you value yours.

Editors who go to conferences show willingness to share their knowledge and experience.  Yet they do hope that when they get back home, they will have found at least one gem they can  polish and present brightly to their readers. You could be that gem.

Now, a question for you my dear blog readers:

Have you ever been able to pitch an idea in person to an editor in a different kind of appointment other than what I’ve mentioned?  Or did an editor appointment have positive long-term results for you, in launching or enhancing your writing career?

Write On!

Laurie

© 2011 Laurie Winslow Sargent

SellYourNonfiction.Wordpress.com

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“Can writers meet magazine editors in person? Does it help?” Part 1

“How can writers meet editors in person?  Is it helpful?” Part 1

Yes, it’s possible to meet some, and yes, it can be helpful.

Yet by nature, freelancing tends to be a long-distance business. You will sell to editors you never meet in person, especially if you write for national or specialized publications or for book houses in cities miles from your hometown.

And that’s OK. It’s your words on paper they buy, not your good looks. What they see in print from you is what their readers will see, after a bit of editorial polish and spit.

That’s not to say that you won’t develop relationships with editors. Between emails, phone conversations, chat, and snail mail you may work together very closely, and for many years. You will learn and grow from their input. They will become familiar with your experience, knowledge, and writing skill sets. That leads to more trust, and repeat assignments.

If someday you finally get a few minutes to meet them, that’s a bonus and a pleasure.

However,  I admit that I got a nice jump-start in writing for one magazine by meeting the primary editor at a writer’s conference. You can do the same.

That doesn’t mean it necessarily gave me an edge over other writers. It simply means that instead of trying to get that editor’s attention in a sterile, black and white, 12 point Times New Roman font, I had 15 minutes to reveal my enthusiasm for the magazine and my fountain of ideas, while pitching one idea more specifically.

After the conference, when I sent the formal query in the mail for him to consider more closely, I had the privilege of it being moved to a smaller stack on his desk than his towering slush pile, due to my scribbled words  “requested material” on the envelope. However, that one meeting did lead to my writing for nearly every issue of the magazine for six years, so it was the beginning of great working relationship.

Not all editors attend conferences, and not all conferences are suitable (or affordable) for you to attend. Find several conferences that appeal to you. Look online at the brochures to see who is attending. You might see an editor listed who would be a good fit for a query you are working on.

However, the purpose for attending should not revolve solely around the one meeting. Look for workshops and keynote presentations that excite you. Look  forward to learning a ton and developing new friendships. Before I go to any conference, I pray that my time there will be well spent, to help others as well as getting help myself.

Consider the whole conference a relationship-building experience, in addition to a chance to build writing skills. Your excitement about being there in general will carry through into your editorial appointments.  Then if a serendipitous moment happens, say a prayer of thanks.

Next up is Part 2: ” Can writers meet magazine editors in person? How are appointments arranged?”

Write on!

Laurie Winslow Sargent

SellYourNonfiction.Wordpress.com

“Is my personal experience story publishable?”

One form of nonfiction is the personal experience story.

This type of story uses elements of fiction, including dialogue and scene-setting. With “creative nonfiction”, you get to flex both your fiction and nonfiction muscles!

It’s fun, because unlike with fiction, you don’t have to worry about making up the plot. You simply (or not so simply) tell the story in a way that helps the reader feel as if she or he were there with you.

Personal experience stories can be published in:

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