S. M. Nystoriak's Writer's Block

A place for writer's and readers to meet!

Let’s Talk: Word Count!

Welcome to my Writer’s Block!

We are talking about word count today.  Whenever anyone asks me about books I have written or am working on, they inevitably ask me about how long it is. Truth is I know that they want to know how long it is, in pages.  Yet, I answer them in word count.

“Sixty-eight thousand words?  How many pages is that?” they ask.  And I know there is a formula for figuring it out in a general sense.  For the purposes of being able to answer those questions about page count, the following information is listed on fionaraven.com:

Using your current word count and the appropriate formula below, calculate the number of pages you can expect in your finished book:

Your word count divided by 390 = page count for a 5.5″ x 8.5″ book For example: 50,000 divided by 390 = 128.20 pages

Your word count divided by 475 = page count for a 6″ x 9″ book For example: 50,000 divided by 475 = 105.26 pages

In the examples above, use the 5.5” x 8.5” for fiction, and the 6” x 9” for non-fiction.

But Back To Word Count  :)

Word count is how writers determine what kind of baby we have:  is it a short story, novella, epic novel?  We can generally tell by the word count.  There are several sources for a description of word count “requirements”, but it is also important to realize there is also some grey area there as well.  I tend to lean toward the more flexible word count designations.

Writer’s Digest has a very good post about it here, where they show optimal, acceptable, and unacceptable ranges for just about any fiction book and level.  I like this article, because of that “grey area” I spoke about earlier.  Nothing I do is ever black and white.  I have said this other places on my blog, but the arts, to me, are living things.  They evolve, grow and develop in differing ways.

Does word count really matter?  I think it does.  If you pitch a book to an editor at a press or to a literary agent, it really should fall into the word count range for the genre that it is.  The agents and editors know the market.  They know what readers specific genres expect as far as word count.  So, I think it does matter.

What happens if your novel falls short of the desired word count?  All is not lost.  While I believe in word count ranges, if a story is well told and it’s only a novella length piece, maybe that’s what it was meant to be.  And if your story explodes into the hundreds of thousands for word count?  Perhaps you have a series on your hands!

Is  word count something you should focus on from the beginning of a project?  Maybe, maybe not.  For example, I believe in a free-flow writing process.  I do like outlines (a LOT!), but when actually doing the writing of a first draft, I get the ideas down, and fill in gaps later.  I tend to be a very lean writer, generally speaking.  I don’t think I could ever write a novel of epic length.  It doesn’t suit my style.

But if it is November 1, and I am embarking on another trip through NaNoWriMo, word count is everything to me!  I want to win, so my goal is 50K or more words by the end of the month.

How do you feel about word count?  Do you follow any hard and fast rules, or are you an embracer of the grey area, like me?  Comment below!  I love to connect with my readers J

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Writerly Advice: Get Happy! Finding The Courage to Celebrate Our Little Writing Victories

Thanks for stopping by today!  Today’s post stems from some very needed words of encouragement from a writerly friend of mine.  I had been so full of self-doubt that it took a lot of convincing that I had every right to be excited and happy about my work.  Because of that rather lengthy pep talk, see below:

Which brings me to the topic at hand.  Many of us are content to be holed away in our quiet spaces, receiving constant critique and criticism.  We thrive on it, because we know that is among all of the criticism that we find those gems; advice and ways to hone our craft, making it shine even brighter than before.

That’s what we all want.  We want our work to be as good as we can make it.

All artists live in a world where perfection is never achieved.  It cannot ever be attained, because there is always more to learn.  As a music educator, I view the study of music as an evolving, living thing.  It is the same with writing.  We learn from the masters.  We take what those who have come before us contributed to the craft, and somehow make it our own, leaving behind a legacy to be built upon by others.

But in pursuit of all this, and amid the constant critique and criticism, it can sometimes be hard for the writer to find the little victories to celebrate; our own little gems.  But between all of the edits and drafts of our work, we go through lots of little successes. A turn of phrase that somehow makes a page sparkle.  The use of a word that perfectly captures the moment in a character’s world.  The courage to remove a thousand words of unnecessary “stuff” from a chapter.  The courage to sit down and map out something new.  It feels so good!

I think it might be in my genes, but here is a trap I fall into:  self-doubt.  I can say that with time, I have grown enough as a writer that I can often push those nasty little feelings aside, but it isn’t easy.  Sometimes it takes my writer friends, who know exactly what I am going through, to encourage me to see past the doubt to the glimmer of victory in my work.  I try to do the same for them, whenever possible.  The writing life is hard, but also very fulfilling.  We cannot do it alone.

Today, I challenge you to have the courage to celebrate those little writing victories. Seek them out, if you have to!  You are allowed.  Here’s one: We are so in tune with the action of revision, that we don’t see revision as its own “hurrah”! Now that I think about it, writers have a ton of things we could celebrate every day.

How do you spot personal victories as a writer?  Please share your victories here in the comments.  Large or small, I want to hear about them!

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My Writing Bucket List-Summer Edition

Welcome, friends!

My life has been dictated by the school calendar since birth, due to the fact that my mother was a teacher.  School, college and teaching career followed, again, on the school calendar.  I guess you could say I am used to it by now.

Much like some people use January 1 to make resolutions for themselves, I use the summers to prepare for the upcoming school year as well as amp up my writing.  Don’t get me wrong, I write all year long.  My normal pacing is something like this:

  • October:  Plot and outline something new
  • November:  Take part in NaNoWriMo
  • December-May:  Continue November manuscript, work on smaller writing projects
  • June-September:  Take part in summertime conferences, writing contests, and querying.

For me, this schedule works, due to the school calendar that I follow.  As I type this, I realize now is the time for me to make plans for my summer writing endeavors.  I have a few “bucket list” goals I’d like to meet:

  1. Write more short stories (I LOVE to write them!  I blog about them here)
  2. Finish editing on my November 2015 manuscript (This story cracks me up!)
  3. Take part in the Savvy Authors Summer Symposium (An annual thing for me.  Great stuff at this online conference!)
  4. Attend a writer’s conference (I’m not sure if this will work out, but hopefully it will!)

I have gotten a lot better at organizing my time over the last couple of years, so I am pretty sure that I will finish editing my November 2015 manuscript by Labor Day.  And the short Stories?  Well, I will embrace those little story ideas that seem to come to mind suddenly, and write them as time allows.  The last two items on my summer bucket list may or may not happen, due to things out of my control, but I plan on completing both of them.

We shall see how it all goes!

How about you?  Do you have a writing bucket list?  Writing plans for the summer?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Happy writing, everyone!

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Flashback Time Machine: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Today I am resurrecting my blog series, Flashback Time Machine, with a feature about one of my favorite classics, The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Frances Hodgson Burnett   The_Secret_Garden_book_cover_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_17396

For those who may have never heard of Frances Hodgson Burnett, I have a little bit of background for you. Frances Hodgson Burnett was born in England in 1849, but moved with her family to the U.S. in 1865 after her father died. Her early writings were published in magazines, but she began writing novels in the 1880’s, after she was married. She wrote The Secret Garden in the 1890’s. Frances Hodgson Burnett died in 1924 in Long Island, New York.

Now, for a bit about my own reading background, as it pertains to this post about The Secret Garden: Growing up, I was never one to be a big reader. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, actually. Much of my hesitation with reading came from a weak eye muscle, which made it difficult to focus for long periods of time. This eventually changed, thankfully, although the habit of reading was not as ingrained as it could have been.

One day, as a teenager, I came across the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie of The Secret Garden on television.

The Secret Garden 1987 movie

Another bit of backstory about me: I love to listen to the British accent, especially as spoken through a story of “classic” English speech. The pacing has a very “musical” quality to me. That one fact alone kept my interest watching the actors tell the story that Frances Hodgson Burnett had written so many years ago. By the end, I was moved by the message of the story, as well as the transformation of the main character, Mary Lenox. So much so, that I went right out and bought myself a copy. To actually read.

And read it, I did. As I read the story, the music of the words touched my heart. Here is my take on this wonderful book’s message:

Miss Mary Lenox begins the story as a spoiled brat, being forced out of her home in India due to a plague. She goes to live in England with an uncle in England, whom she has never met. It is here that Mary is introduced to a different lifestyle (although still privileged) where she makes friends (somewhat reluctantly) and discovers, by way of her insatiable curiosity and a hidden garden door, a love of the outdoors and gardening, and a compassion she never realized was within herself.

Throughout the story, it is revealed that her own uncle, who she is just beginning to get to know, has a secret of sadness, which he locked away in the secret garden. Mary also learns that one of her new “reluctant” friends is more of a spoiled brat than she is, and Miss Mary uses a mix of tough love and patience to bring him around. The reader sees that it is the secret garden that binds the characters. Mary, through hard work and kindness, is able to bring happiness once again to her new family and friends.

Obviously, I recommend this book. I love a story with a multi-layered theme and message, especially when it is as heartwarming as this one. I am really glad I discovered this story when I did. It is one of the gems that helped to shape me as a writer.

What novels speak to you on a deep level? Please let me know in the comments!

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Spring Cleaning: A Chance To Take Stock In What We Have

Spring Cleaning is an annual ritual my family undertakes, literally, once a year. As much as I dislike the enormous chore of deep cleaning the house, it feels good to clear things out, take stock in what we have and what we might repurpose or pass on to someone else who may need it.

This past week, as part of this Spring Cleaning process, I took a look at all of my blog posts. Every single one of them! I discovered some real gems in there once I dusted off the cobwebs and reminded myself what had inspired each post.

I can honestly say I have grown quite a bit as a writer since I first began this blog. One of the nagging thoughts I had during the earliest posts was, “What gives me the right to post anything for other writers?” Another was, “What makes me think I can post anything that another writer may find valuable?”

I have gotten over those feelings of self-doubt over the years, thankfully!

My first posts were basically throw-aways, as I tried to navigate the way WordPress worked for blogging. But then I found something of a focus, and I began to reach out to other authors after reading their books. New relationships were formed as I would interview each one.

And I must say I adore doing interviews. My interview style has developed through the years into something that I take a lot of pride in. I have a lot of confidence in my questioning techniques now, which translates into some very interesting discussions!

Another thing I discovered is that some of my posts now fit into blog series and mini-series. My Writerly Advice topics continue to be great to write about, as well as my NaNo Mini-Series interviews. I can’t wait for next year’s NaNo Mini-Series!

…Which brings me to the biggest discovery during my Blog Spring Cleaning: Flashback Time Machine!

Flashback Time Machine is a series I started, then forgot about. In the series, I write about some literature classics, and come up with questions I would have liked to ask the author if they were still alive today. I enjoyed writing those posts a great deal.

Well, it’s time to resurrect the Flashback Time Machine! In the coming weeks, I will be working on the next installment of that series. I won’t divulge the book or author yet, although I already have the plan in place.

For now, thank you to all of my blog readers and followers! It means the world to me that we can connect in this way. Spring Cleaning can be awesome! Not only did I take stock of the written content on this blog from its earliest posts, but I also took stock in the many views, comments and followers that grew out of it.

If you have a topic for this blog that you would like me to cover, please leave a comment below!

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Writerly Advice: The Benefits of Writing Short Stories

Several November’s ago, I embarked on a grand adventure.  I had an idea for an amazing story, and when I learned what NaNoWriMo was all about, I had to jump in with both feet.  Thirty days later, I had a complete (rough!) first draft of a novel.  Between the thrill of having the idea for the novel and the exhileration of completing it, I knew I had tapped into a part of me that I would never be able to let go of.

Since that time, I have learned a lot about myself and my writing. For one thing, the idea of writing a 50-80 K novel excites me with every glimmer of inspiration I get.

I have learned a lot about time management (even though, let’s face it, it’s tough to balance everything sometimes).  I am now a definite plotter when I can, or care to be, and I have mastered the art of productive pantsing.  Yes, I love the process of creating a full length novel.

But something affected me recently.  I was asked by a writer friend to do a beta read of one of his short stories for a competition.  I will freely admit that short stories have never been something that I would choose to read.  But something in the way that a diminutive word can convey a full story, beginning-middle-and end, enlightened something in me.

Around the same time as this enlightenment, a short story submission announcement showed up in my inbox.  So, I did the only thing I could.  I dusted off an old story idea which had been tucked away somewhere in my laptop, waiting for its day in the sun.  I looked at the strange words I had written about it, and then freaked out a little.

But with the help of a couple of my writer friends, who I consider “Short Story Enthusiasts”, I managed to transform a focus-less plot into a short story that I am proud of.

Working on this short story has taught me several things.

  1. I don’t need a multitude of chapters to tell a good, complete story.
  2. The small word count allotted for a short story makes me use much better words.  I have to be very picky!
  3. There is nothing to fear about pacing a short story plot.
  4. I don’t need to devote hundreds of words to backstory when I can use more effective word-choices to infer the same information.
  5. I have learned to be far less “tell-y”, because there simply isn’t time in a short story.

I still love writing novels.  I love how they are constructed, and I love how a novel paces out the plot over time, allowing me to live with the characters for a while.  But having worked on this short story, I have better perspective as a writer.  The techniques of using language in a concise, descriptive way can only help me as a novelist.

Readers, I am curious.  How many of you novelists have delved into the realm of the short story?  How does writing short stories impact your novel writing?

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Writerly Advice: Making Time For Our Characters and Stories

The Spring season is finally arriving in Northern New York. It’s not just the temperature that tells me, either.  I can smell the thawing of earth in the air, and I can hear the birds in the trees, having returned from wherever it is that they travel to for the winter months.  The rushing water from the stream six acres behind my house, which has been frozen for months, echoes through the forest.

Along with all of these lovely Spring happenings, another sign of Spring has made it’s entrance:  A completely busy calendar.  And with that comes the inevitable guilt for my diminution of writing time.

Who’s with me?

Anyone else feel it, too?

I doubt I am alone here.  As writers, we are wired to see everyday occurrences as opportunities to create a story.  We make mental notes, and written ones, so that we do not forget the marvelous ideas that pop into our heads, just waiting to come alive in a story.

But now that my calendar is brimming, so incredibly full, that all of these wonderful ideas sometimes never make it to paper or my computer.  And that is nothing to speak of my previously written works in progress–when will I get to sit down with them for meaningful blocks of time again, to hang out with them in their world?

Their world.  That’s what I need, time in someone else’s world.

But seriously, who can do that at this point of the year?

I have decided to formulate an action plan to get through this busy time.  The first part of my plan comes from advice from other authors, which is to write a little every day, without fail.  In the past, especially during these busy times, I might go several days without writing or even thinking about my writing.  Historically, that hasn’t really worked so well, which brings me to the next part of my action plan.

The second part of my plan includes thinkingYes, that’s right.  I am committed to thinking about my works in progress daily.  I have this feeling that if I think about my characters in their world, it’ll be fresh in my mind when I am finally able to get to my laptop.

The third part of my action plan involves shedding the guilt.  We are writers.  We believe in our characters and stories.  We feel for them.  We nurture them until they are able to get out into the world.

Like children.

And when we can’t spend meaningful time with our children we feel guilty.  But as writers, we forget that those characters are forgiving, and will be patient as they wait for us to return to them.  It’s the thought that counts, right (part two of my action plan)?

Here’s hoping!

Do you have any writerly advice on this topic?  How do you get through the busy times when life gets in the way of writing?  please comment below!

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An Interview With My Readers!

On this very blog, I interview a lot of writers and people involved in the publishing process.  But today I’m going to try something different!  Hang onto your hats :)

As I work on writing a manuscript, I find that the characters and scenes play out like a movie in my mind.  I’m not sure that is particularly unique to me, but I do think it’s an interesting phenomenon.  As the scenes and conversations go by, not only do I have the visual in mind, but also the soundtrack and sometimes even the score.  Again, not sure if other people experience this, but I suspect they do.  You might think that my being a musician and having all of these ideas, musical and non-musical, in my head as I write, my prose would contain amazing detail and imagery.

It doesn’t.  In fact, I struggle with it sometimes (But I’ll save that for another post!).

For today, though, I’d like to interview you, my readers, about you novel’s soundtrack.  Your novel can be published or not, complete or not.  Those silly details don’t matter for this!   If you would like to take part, and I’d love it if you did, please write your responses to my questions in the comment section.  Include some links, if you want!  Here are the questions:

1.  Does the music you personally listen to influence the books/stories that you write?  If so, can you give us an example?

2.  When you think about your latest completed novel or work in progress, what music comes to mind?  Have you put together a playlist for it?

3.  Do you use specific music to help you “get in the zone” for a writing session?

 

I’ll go ahead and answer first.

1.  I do think that the music I listen to can influence what I write.  For instance, before writing my first novel, Muse’s song Citizen Erased was on constant repeat.  That novel has a definite “Musey” vibe.  A little dark, and introspective.  Here is the lyric video for that tune:

 

 

 

2.  My latest novel is quite different from my first.  I wouldn’t say that I have a full playlist for it, but Bruce Springsteen’s Fire would definitely be on it!

 

 

 

 

3.  I definitely use music for “getting in the zone”.  If I know I only have a certain amount of time to write, I may prep myself by listening to the music that I know can get me ready, mentally, so I can maximize my time.  And sometimes, like I mentioned about my first novel, a song can literally throw me into the zone!

 

So, now it’s your turn!  Tell us about your soundtrack!  I love connecting with my readers :)

Thanks for playing along!

 

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Let’s Talk: Revision!

While waiting to hear back on submissions, one of the best things to do is to envelop yourself in other writing projects. Today, I sit at my laptop, ready to begin the in-depth revisions of my latest novel. For the first time ever, I began this particular novelling journey by composing a Query Letter, then I mapped out the entire novel using Scrivener’s Cork Board. I write about my discovery and first impressions of that software, here. This manuscript, which began as an exercise in how to use the famed software, has developed into a really fun adventure about Misty Dawn and Violet, two college girls whose attempts to beef up their social statuses end them up at a ranch in Wyoming for Spring Break.

Through the years, I have learned that I am a very lean writer. Drafting a novel, for me, always ends in low word counts, with just the skeleton of the story, start to finish, played out. I am known for including phrases like “(scene about a car chase will go here)” and “(scene with their first date details will go here)” into my first drafts, because, well, when a story comes to me, I need to get the thing sketched out. Good, bad, or otherwise, my plan is to go back and fill in the details later. I guess that you could say that my first drafts are merely embellished sketches of the blueprint.

In the past, I have edited my manuscripts in phases, and saving each phase of revision as a new draft. If you are interested, here is the process I follow to edit my draft:

Phase 1-Plot Holes: Print out one copy of the draft. Read through it in its entirety, looking for large plot-holes or gaps in the story. Flag them with a sticky. After the reading is complete and flagged, go through and fill in the gaps, as best as you can. Save it as a new draft. This part goes pretty quick for me.

Phase 2-Main Character Validity and Plot:  Print out one copy of the draft. Read through it looking at the character arc of your main characters, reviewing for plot along the way. Use sticky flags to mark problem plot areas. With pen, directly on the printout, make notes about your character’s progression through the novel. Go back through and make necessary changes. Save it as a new draft.

Phase 3- Supporting Characters, Main Characters, and Plot: Print out a copy of the draft. Read through it to see how the supporting characters enhance the story arc and main characters. Make changes as necessary. Eliminate anything that doesn’t work. I sometimes revisit my original outline at this point to see if there is anything I missed and want to use. Save it as a new draft.

Phase 4-Spelling/Grammer: I don’t usually use a hard copy for this part. Go through the latest draft in Word looking for these errors.

Once I have gone through these four phases, I feel like I can send it to beta readers, either in chunks of chapters or as an entire document, depending on the reader. This year, though, with my Misty Dawn draft, I took part in SC Author’s “Become An Agent” contest, mostly because I had the QL already finished, and I felt I could get the first 250 words in order for it as well. Here is a link to my entry.

So now, here I sit, with the amazing suggestions from the other contest entrants about my early novel, poised and ready to begin Phase 1 of my editing process.

Please share how you approach editing your novels below. And if you don’t follow me on Twitter, please do! I love to learn about this crazy writing process by connecting with other writers.

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Completing the Trifecta: A Publishing Chat with Summer Wier, Marketing Director with REUTS Publishing

Summer Wier

All this month, I have been fortunate enough to feature REUTs Publishing’s Behind-The-Scenes talent. Beginning with Editorial Director, Kisa Whipkey, and then with Cover Artist and REUT’s founder, Ashley Ruggirello, we all got an  inside look at the inner workings of a small publisher, following the process from acquisitions to print.

Kisa’s interview can be found here.

Ashley’s interview can be found here.

I highly recommend checking those out, whether you are looking for a publisher or if you’re just plain curious about the process of publishing, like I am.

 

But today is a big day, as I complete my mini-series trifecta interviewing

Summer Wier, Marketing Director for REUTS Publishing!

Susan: It’s so nice to have you with us on my Writer’s Block, Summer! Welcome! Let’s start off by having you tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your background? Do you have a degree in marketing? If not, how did your path lead you to where you are today, career-wise? How did you end up as the Marketing Director at REUTS Publishing?

Summer: Hi, Susan! Thanks for having me. Let’s see, where to start. I have a wide variety of experience under my belt and consider myself a jack-of-all-trades. My educational background includes an accounting degree and an MBA. So while I don’t have marketing degree specifically, it was a focus of both my undergrad and grad degrees. Over the years (I won’t tell you how longs it’s been since I graduated), I’ve had the opportunity to work in various capacities contributing to experience in marketing, graphic design, web development, SEO, sales, contract drafting…you name it. I’m one of those people who isn’t content doing just one thing or specializing in one trade, I want to know how every “part” works and contributes to an organization as a whole. As the Finance and Marketing Director for a chain of retail stores in the DFW area, I’ve had a chance to really understand how essential it is for departments to coordinate efforts in pursuit of success. It’s this perspective and experience that we incorporate at REUTS. We all wear many hats.

I started at REUTS as a Jr. Editor and acquisitions assistant in an effort to gain some experience in the publishing industry. When Founder Ashley Ruggirello put out a call for a Marketing Guru, I responded “I’m your gal!” And the rest is history.

 

Susan: During the acquisitions process at REUTS, I have learned that the four directors chime in on each manuscript. What are the things you look for in a manuscript? On the other hand, are there things that would be red flags to you as the Marketing Director?

Summer:I assess marketability based on things like genre, voice, originality, and complementary titles from our current library and outside sources. Of course a manuscript has to have “that special something” whether in spades or as a glimmer of potential; it really is all about the manuscript. We realize that very few authors have experience doing marketing, or knowing what that really entails, and that’s also where I come in.

As far as red flags go, unoriginal first pages top my list. You’ve probably seen the list of don’ts: waking up from a dream or starting off in a dream, getting ready for school, describing characters using a mirror. I am immediately turned off by those things (unless the execution has original elements or is spectacular). It also makes me wonder if the rest of the manuscript has anything new or unique to offer. Publishing is a tough industry; you have to create something that sets you apart from everyone else. Another red flag can come from the query or even a person’s behavior on social media. I think Ashley mentioned this in her interview, but we stalk people. (YES! We look you up.) It’s hard to visualize working with someone who is less than professional or down-right jerky, no matter how fabulous their work may be.

 

Susan: I asked a similar question to this next one to Ashley Ruggirello recently, but I am curious about your response. When reading a full submission, can you tell early on about its marketability? Are you able to begin formulating a plan for its release strategy from the get-go, or does the “master plan” reveal itself later on?

Summer: First off, I always have a master plan. It includes everything under the sun, but it usually tweaked and honed to each author based on their strengths, time, and budget. But in the early stages, when reading a submission, there are definitely times when I visualize a favorite quote as a teaser or think about how the story would translate into a trailer (more on this later). Bottom line, I definitely have a strategy from the get-go, but nothing is set in stone until I’ve had a heart-to-heart with the author.

 

Susan: That’s awesome about the teaser quotes! I am very interested in this next question. Can you tell us about the path a book takes from the time it is acquired by a publisher until it can be found on the virtual and physical bookstore shelves?

Summer: This is quite the loaded question as it could be answered from many different angles, but since I’m here to talk about marketing, that’s what I’ll focus on. Once we sign an author, each of the departments sends out an initial letter. I put together a “master plan” marketing document that outlines everything an author could do from the very first moments of their contract through release and beyond. From that list we target efforts that the author feels comfortable with and move forward from there. So while an author is simultaneously working with staff on cover design and editing, they’re also laying their part of the groundwork for marketing and promotion. Behind the scenes, I work on promotional materials and press releases, initiate social media strategy, with the help of the extremely talented Tiffany Rose who distributes ARCs, coordinates blog tours, helps with teasers and trailers etc. We start rolling everything out a few weeks before release, and when pub day hits, there’s no holds barred.

 

Susan: During the process of getting a book out into the world, what is the best part, from your perspective?

Summer: Release day is hands-down the most exciting day, and I love seeing an author’s words come to life via teasers and a trailer. It’s great to see all of our efforts come together, and the resulting support and praise for an author’s work on his or her big day is phenomenal!

 

Susan: When I think of marketing a book, I think about all of the things that an author would be doing from their end. What types of things can a Marketing Director do from the publisher’s side to help an author’s manuscript have a successful release?

Summer: Well in the case of many debut authors, I coach and guide author’s efforts from behind-the-scenes. As you can imagine, there’s a wide range of experience (or lack thereof) between authors. Some need a little coddling, others just run with it. But aside from that, and some of this was mentioned above (pushing press releases, distributing ARCs, coordinating blog tours), I coordinate post-release promos, social media content, swag design, potential event outreach, online and print advertisement, and Ashley and I work together fielding film inquiries and vetting other subsidiary rights opportunities. Multiply that by umpteen authors…yea, you get the picture.

 

Susan: What, in your estimation, are the three most important things an author can do to promote their brand and their books? How can an author best prepare for that, especially if the novel is a debut?

Summer: You know the saying, “What goes around, comes around”? That. I truly believe in karma. If you help others in a constructive way, without ulterior motives, without expecting anything in return, others will help you right back. But let’s see…you asked for three things and here are my professional answers: Be organized. Be consistent. Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. (And I’m adding a fourth.) Be resilient. Whether debut or not, an author needs to be organized. Keep track of reviewers, fans who reach out to you, guest posts, etc., etc. Reach out as much as possible to those who are interested in being in touch with you. Maintain a routine schedule, whether it’s 30 min twice a week, or 15 min a day. Be willing to try new things. It’s no surprise that many authors are less than excited about doing in-person events, we’re introverts by nature (a lot of us are anyway), but there is no substitute for making personal connections. And lastly, you have to bounce back. Writers deal with negative reviews, poor turnout for an event, pirated materials, and the list goes on and on. It’s okay to be disappointed, sad, angry, but when the sting wears off, you have to get back out there and try again. Just keep swimming.

 

Susan: On the REUTS webpage, there is mention of something called a “street team”. If you could, please tell my readers what that is, and how it can help the author.

Summer: A street team consists of individuals who want to show support and help promote an author’s books, or in our case books from a publisher’s library! They can get behind-the-scenes info or a first peek at news, but really it’s just a group of people who are excited about a book (or books) and want to help get the word out!

 

Susan: You have touched on this a little bit earlier. I have seen some amazingly intriguing book trailers. Is that something that you would do as a Marketing Director? If not, do you feel that creating a book trailer is something that is necessary for a book’s success?

Summer: It makes me so happy to hear you say that! And yes this is something we provide our authors. They can, of course, choose to do something on their own, but we want to make sure that everyone at least has the choice to have a professional trailer for promotion. The fabulous Tiffany Rose and I collaborate and create each trailer, then send it to the author and Sr. Editor Kisa Whipkey and Ashley Ruggirello for feedback. If you haven’t noticed by now, REUTS’ success is highly attributed to teamwork. We’re a well-oiled machine, if I do say so myself. Now is a trailer required? Is it necessary for success? No. There are those who say they aren’t worth the time or expense to create, but from our perspective a good-looking trailer can’t hurt!

 

Susan: As expected, you have provided us with some amazing information. Thank you so much for being here today, Summer!   The answers to these questions are so helpful to aspiring authors, like me. I am grateful to the REUTS family of directors for being so candid with me and my readers! Is there anything else you think my readers would appreciate knowing about marketing their brand or book?

Summer: Thanks for having me! The biggest advice I can give authors is: Don’t think you have to do everything. There are many, many platforms, online and offline options, events, blogs, ad sites etc., etc. Figure out what you can do (without stressing or over-extending yourself) and make it work for you. Mix it up. Try new things. Don’t be afraid to fail. Every effort is an opportunity to learn something. And keep writing!

 

Summer Wier is an MBA toting accountant, undercover writer, and all around jack-of-all-trades. Link is her debut novel and the first in The Shadow of Light series. She has short stories appearing in Fairly Twisted Tales For A Horribly Ever After and co-authors the Splinter web serial. Summer is the Marketing Director and a member of the acquisitions team at REUTS Publications. When she’s not digging through spreadsheets or playing mom, you can find her reading/writing, cooking, or dreaming of the mountains in Montana.

Connect with Summer on Twitter @summerwier or visit her website at http://www.summerwier.com.

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