Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Preparing for Market

I'm sure you've all been thinking about what you are going to do when you get "the call." You can picture yourself jumping up and down and screaming.  You know who you're going to call on the phone, email around the globe and pound on with excitement when they walk in the door.  But eventually you come off of cloud nine and reality hits.  Just ask Glynna who just received "the call".  Congrats fellow Seeker.  (I have to admit when I opened up my emails and saw she'd received "the call" I screamed so loud I scared my hubby and the dogs. But when he found out why, he started jumping up and down too.)  

Anyway, back to the point.  After the call, you receive forms to fill out wanting ideas for cover art, blurbs, pages of revisions and a proposal for the next book. After looking at the work ahead, you realize you are going to have to get set for the publicity angle of this writing/publishing business.  Oh my, you think. When am I going to have the time?   

That's a good point. Your time may be limited because of your day job, family to take care of, animals to feed and exercise, volunteer commitments, classes you're taking, any number of things called "life".  So why not be prepared for that aspect ahead of time.  Even if you're not published YET, you can get started on a foundation for publicity and marketing. 

1. Start collecting addresses of fellow writers you meet, readers you know, friends who have friends, etc.  When you attend those writer meetings, workshops, conferences, network.  Pass out business cards.  Collect business cards.  Ask if you can put their names on your mailing list. Then when you get "the call" you will be able to tell all of those people.

2. Print out business cards.  
There are many websites that offer free business cards.   Some of my friends print the blurbs of their wips on the back of their cards.  Or you can include a photo of yourself to help that editor or agent remember meeting you when you send in the proposal they requested.  I use Vista Print.

3. Apply for a domain name. 
Most authors want their name as their domain name.  For example  www.julielessman.com is the domain name for our Seeker author,  Julie Lessman. Seeker Missy Tippens has the domain name:  www.missytippens.com.  Domain names are inexpensive and you can have one even if you don't have a website developed for it. You will need to have one to develop a website.

4. Develop a website.   
Seeker Myra Johnson really impressed me with her readiness for "the call".  She developed her own website, blog, newsletter and has a following.  Not only that, she has all of her proposals listed on her website.  http://www.myrajohnson.com. Myra reported that she sent Barbara Scott at Abingdon her proposal.  Ms. Scott liked her writing, but not the proposal. She clicked onto Myra's website, saw all of the publicity Myra had set up and also saw her other proposals. She asked for An Imperfect Christmas and later made "the call".

Websites are also great places to publicize your books when they are published.  To attract people to your website, it helps to have a lot of interesting information and action.  Check out Camy Tang's site.  http://www.camytang.com.  She has what's called a "sticky site".  You start with one thing and then your attention gets caught with some other item and you stick with it-you don't want to leave.  

When you develop your website you will want to form links to your friends. This helps them with publicity and when you are linked, it helps yours also.  Check out the links and contacts on Cheryl Wyatt's website and see what I mean.  www.cherylwyatt.com.

Other links you can connect to are links to blogs.  You want to be sure and link to your blog and to any blog that you belong to.  Check out Mary Connealy's website.  www.maryconnealy.com 
Mary is part of Pistols and Petticoats,  Edit Cafe and our own Seekerville.  

When you go to develop a website the advice is to check out websites to get ideas.  Besides those listed above check out these Seekers:  

5.  Develop a blog.  If you checked out the above websites, you will see that all of these authors are on blogs.  Since you are reading this blog, you know what they are.  One thing that we have found helpful is that we developed a blog as a group.  We were all contest winners and started our site by posting information about contests.  It has since evolved to include writing tips and interviews with editors and agents.  This would be a huge task to do alone.  It is tough to come up with new information every day.  Sharing it with others helps.  We started out unpublished, but as each one has received "the call", they have a blog all set to talk about their new releases.  So you can see the advantage of blogging before you receive "the call".  We have several past posts on blogs that you may find helpful.

Now that you know what you can do ahead of time, how do you do it? I developed two websites previously and paid to have them done.  I don't really like doing that because for one, you have to do everything anyway.  I had to write the text to put in it. I had to provide all of the links, I had to provide the graphics.  Every time I wanted to make a change I had to pay them to do it and it wasn't always done in a timely manner.   So why not save money and do it myself?  

Good question, but the answer is simple. I don't know how.  And maybe you don't either.  

Mobile Me with Apple has great templates that are easy to use.  I'm in the process of developing this site for my children's books. I use my maiden name as the author of my children's books, so my domain name is my maiden name.  www.sandywardman.com.  You can see that there are some pages I want to update every week and month.    

This format is very basic and I need to know more information.  I am starting a class this week at Mesa Community College.  It is going to take me the whole semester to learn how to build a website, so now you see why it is best to have all of this knowledge before "the call".  I will let you know in future posts what I learn.   Hopefully you'll see improvements to my site as I learn.  

So after reading all of this I bet you need some comfort food.  And prayer.   I certainly do because the thought of going back to school has me a little nervous.  And excited.  So let's see, how about some maple bars, the kind dripping with maple glaze.  Some Kona coffee, roasted dark would go good with that.  And I'll throw in more oranges off my tree for those of you who know all this and don't need the comfort or the calories.  Oh that's right. Cyber bars equal no calories.  Yum.  

And anyone who wants to chime in with more hints to prepare for "the call" or to just say hi will be entered into a contest to win one of my children's books.  God's Spirit Within Me
Be sure and include your email address if you want to be entered so that I can contact you for your mailing address. 

Before I go I just want to remind you that Valentine's day is coming up and autographed books make terrific gifts. Think about it. You spend $4-$5 for a card. Why not spend a couple more bucks and give a book to enjoy instead?  That way you are supporting the industry you are trying to break into.  

Happy writing.


  1. Great post, Sandra. Lots of helpful information that I wish I'd had even before I sold.


  2. Thanks Cheryl, I love your website. Folks her site does have a lot of action. I can hardly wait to learn how to do that in mine. Tina's site has fun action too.

    btw I just learned when writing this post how to put in links in a post and did make one mistake. Sorry Cheryl. When you click on Cheryl's link it takes you to Missy's site. Ooops So you need to type in her name and site on your own. www.cherylwyatt.com Its worth the effort folks. Again, sorry about that.

  3. Sandra, your advice is right on! I purchased my domain name before I sold, but even then the dot com version was taken. Fortunately the other Janet Dean didn't purchase the dot net domain.

    I'm impressed you're taking a class on how to build your own Web site. I'd love to be able to make my updates.

    Wonderful suggestion, Sandra, on giving books for Valentine's Day gifts. Or getting them by leaving a wish list lying around. :-)


  4. Oh Janet, Love the wish list lying around idea. My hubby always appreciates it because it makes it easier for him. smile.

  5. Okay sleepyheads, I'm off for a bike ride. I belong to a retirees group and Tuesday is bicycle riding. We usually go 20-25 miles so I won't be back until this afternoon. I'll read your posts then.

    Enjoy the maple bars. I've already had two. yum

  6. Sandra!

    These oranges are to die for, girlfriend, and I love your advice today.

    And kudos to our Glynna-kins on her good news! A party in Seekerville and more room on the island.

    Seriously. If you're a LOST fan, you'll understand that crowded islands hide all kinds of weird things. Bears, Nantucket fisherman, time warps, etc.

    Our island???

    No quirks, just hard-working writers willing to do what it takes. With the occasional glass of coconut milk and wood-fired tuna, of course. But just between you and me?

    Glynna snores.

    Yes. Really.


    Sandra, I'm working on developing a new website now. Mine disappeared last year and once I got it back, I realized I needed something different so I'm using web.com to build a better mousetrap. Timely advice from you, my friend.

    And working on revisions. The super-exciting requests I've gotten mean some serious word-axing on my end, so I'm realizing that:

    A. I talk too much (duh)
    B. Sometimes less is more (double duh)
    C. Cheryl's fall post about re-wording and re-working is invaluable to me
    D. I would rather write than eat. And I love to eat.

    Okay, grabbing maple bars. Oh my stars, I'm a New Yorker who loves, loves, loves real maple syrup. Great stuff.

    Grabbing coffee too.


  7. Great post. I learn so much here. These are great ideas. I hadn't heard of Vista Print...I'm going there now. :-)

  8. Excellent post. The thought of creating a website scares me silly though. Ugh. I know nothing, absolutely nothing, about code.
    Really great advice here! Thank you for sharing it, plus all those links!

  9. Hi Seekers -

    I've got the blogging thing down, but I still don't have a website. In May, I purchased a domain name. Several folks recommended a web host, Homestead.

    Thanks for an excellent post.

    Susan :)

  10. WOW, great post, Sandra, with great info that the soon-to-pubbed author needs to know. I wish I had known all of this before I sold, because I had to play catchup fast! I remember Randy Ingermansson saying in an ACFW seminar that you need to start developing your platform, your name recognition, years before you actually get published, as well as developing a database of potential readers (i.e. through a newsletter) as soon as possible. So a Web site is an absolute must ASAP. And if you have a blog, all the better -- that's where bloggers have the edge, having already developed a presence, name recognition and a following.


  11. Very impressive post, Sandra!
    I've done some of those things. Others make me wish all I had to do was write a wonderful story!

  12. Sandra, I took a college course on building a website.

    Studied pretty hard, did very badly. Well, badly in the sense that at the end of the college course...I still didn't know how to build a website.

    I own a really snazzy text book, thought, so that's good.

    I also got a B in the class.

    A sad commentary on our educational system.

  13. Sandra:

    I've thought for some time about having a web site, but I'm still unpublished, so I didn't see that it was an urgent issue. But then I began reading on blogs such as this that writers should have one even though they're not published.

    So I sat down and designed one, using the basic HTML skills I learned while I was still teaching high school business and computer classes. At this point I have a basic site designed, but it lacks content. No books to promote, etc.

    The question I have for all you wordy online gals out there reards hosting and cost. Where are you guys having your sites hosted? I know everyone says you can buy a domain name inexpensively, but what about after you're online? What kind of monthly or yearly rates are available with these hosting companies?


  14. Great post, Sandra and thanks! I've done most of the things you mentioned but the dreaded website(it's almost as bad as the dreaded synopsis use to be!) I've tried a couple of times to set up a website but let's face it, I can barely type so who am I to think I can get a website up and running?

    But our God is a great God! Wouldn't you know that He would send someone who I work with(at a job HE provided out of the blue) who is the whiz kid of websites! And she's told me she'd do it for next to nothing!

    As for the goodies, I'll go for the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups-or the gooey brownies I made last night!

    Love you gals,
    Patty Hall

  15. Thanks for this post, Sandra! Great advice that I'm sure I'll re-read from time to time. ~ Since I read The Seekers blog a LOT but seldom comment, I always feel compelled to bring food when I do comment...so enjoy the pans of homemade fudge I brought (one without nuts, the other with Georgia pecans of course!). Blessings, Patti Jo :)

  16. I'm Back. 23 miles today and so no guilt about those two maple bars. I'm ready for sandwiches now. I've got tuna with almonds, ham and swiss cheese on rye, and roast beef with horseradish. Help yourselves.

    Glynna may snore (so do I actually) but Ruthy talks to angels in her sleep. I know. I've witnessed it at the last acfw conference we went to.

    Lynn, hope you found the vista print site. The one that showed up was my order form. yikes. I have sooooooooo much to learn.

    Jessica, Susan, Melanie, Helen and Patty--That is exactly why you need to at least dabble with a website now because once you sell, you won't have time.

  17. Hey fellow bloggers. Don't be discouraged. You're way ahead of the game by knowing how to blog. Websites are just another thing to learn. If I can do it, believe me you can too.

    And maybe God will bless you with a friend who helps. Patty you are one blessed gal.

    GoDaddy.com has a great deal on web hosting and they have a great support team that actually helps you.
    Often you can get a free domain if you sign up for their hosting plan. I did that with Bluehost.com but their support isn't great. 1and1.com is pretty cheap also.

    Remember you can write all of these expenses off on your taxes. You can deduct all of your writing expenses even before publishing as long as you can show rejection letters to prove you're writing in pursuit of a career and not as a hobby.

  18. Cat Mom, I'm sooooooo ready for your fudge. Yum. Glad you joined us.

    Mary, I sure do hope I learn something from that class. I was worried about that. sigh. But something is better than nothing I figure. And its a kick to be on a campus again. Makes me feel young.

    Julie, thanks for dropping by.

    Speaking of dropping by I don't see anyone with emails for the drawing. Maybe you don't have little ones. Be sure and let me know if you want your name entered. Its a great book for ages 3-7. Grandparents really like it too.

  19. This is something my dh has been after me to do, but I haven't seen the need since I'm still years away from being published in anything more than a few anthologies...maybe I need to rethink that. LoL--maybe I need to have my kids learn how to build a website for school. ;-)

  20. Patty, Having your kids do it is a bonus. My friend does that. But you still want to learn because what happened to my friend is her son grew up and moved. yikes. He still works on it which is the miracle of the Internet, but its not as easy for her.

  21. 23 miles!! My lungs and knees are aching for you!!

    What timing! I was just asking around for suggestions on websites. I've used FrontPage in the past, that's the program that I used for my current site, but it isn't that user friendly. Besides, MS upgraded it to be used with their new Word program, so I'm looking again. Mary, Ruthy, Julie and Missy had some great ideas where to look for websites. So I'm shopping.

    All the information you mentioned is so important. I've been working on it in bits and pieces. You're absolutely right about not waiting until you get the call!! Get out there and introduce yourself!!!!!

  22. Hey Audra, Share those websites with us on the loop as some of the bloggers were asking.

    And yes, thank goodness I don't need my leg muscles to blog. LOL

  23. Hey, I just learned something else new. You can edit the post even while it is up. I just changed the mistake I made on Cheryl's website. It was going to Missy's but now goes to hers. Thanks to Camy, our Seeker computer whiz.

    See, I'm so glad this is learning the hard way is happening now and not when I have and editor looking. LOL

  24. Okay, I found out the website hosts that some of the Seekers recommended.

    Network Solutions




  25. Very informative post, Sandra!

    My website hosting and domain name are all through AlterHosting. I've used them for years and hardly ever have problems. The price seems reasonable, too. I design and maintain my own site (probably very obvious) using FrontPage, but one of these days I hope to hire a pro to do it up right.

  26. Thanks for the info Myra. It always helps to know of different sites and especially easy sites. I love your site. Very "sticky" meaning its hard to leave it--so many interesting goodies.

  27. I'll add here that, after years of dithering, I finally got business cards from Vista Print. I'm surprised how much I've used them.

    Here are the things that stopped me.

    I wanted a book cover on the card and that cost more. I didn't want 250 cards with a book cover on them that would be out of date before the cards were gone.

    I just fundmentally did NOT want 250 cards. And yes they're free...free for about $5.
    So that bugged me.

    But, I started running into more and more situations where I wished I could hand out contact info to people. The book marks I get from Barbour now have an email address and web address on them but they didn't used to.

    So, I finally got them. But, not with my book cover. I just took the picture that suited me out of their freebie choices, ended up with red cards with red roses, very pretty and they won't be dated anytime soon.

    They say Mary Connealy -Author but rather than list books they JUST list this blog, my personal blog, my website, my email address and one other blog, Petticoats and Pistols.
    That's it.
    Not even a phone number. I don't mind someone unknown emailing me. No point in worrying about that since my email address is on my website. But I don't think I want random people phoning me.

  28. I use godaddy to host
    thebook.com for server...are those the right words? Host and Server?
    Both sites will do both but I had a web guru who preferred thebook for host (or sever) after I'd signed up with godaddy so I switched half of it.

    I am such a techno-dork.

  29. Sandra,
    Great info!!! Thanks!

    I'll dovetail with Mary . . . once you order from VistaPrint.com, they send lots of sale emails with many things offered for free. Whenever I place an order, I add all the free stuff in and save myself bunches of money.

    Before I had my first cover, I downloaded one of their instock photos for the front, wrote the info about my book on the back and had about 200 mailed to me. I found small clear plastic goody bags (like for kid's birthday party treats), stuck a postcard and some candy in the baggies, tied them up with cute little twistie things and went all over town handing them out . . . to teachers at schools, the gals who work in my dentist's office. Turned out to be a cheap and good marketing tool.

  30. Does anyone have a clue why so many of our faces are little red Xs? I didn't do it!


  31. Yikes! All that info and I missed there was a contest!
    I have a 4,2 and 1 year old. LOL
    Enter me, please!


  32. About VistaPrint...

    My hubby used them for bus. cards and they started charging our card 14.95 a month for some club we didn't join.

    Just be careful. Make sure you unclick stuff so you're not unfairly charged. :-) Otherwise, they def. have great deals.

  33. Sandra,

    Thanks so much for this post. I did some of these things a few years ago but needed the reminder that they need polished. I think this strategy helps create hope that I will be published in fiction one day too.

    I'd love a copy of your children's book.

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

  34. I'm back. Our local RWA chapter has its meeting the last Tuesday of the month. Love those meetings and talking to other writers. Very inspiring.

    Mary and Debby, thanks for the input on Vista Print. You're right. They do send tons of ads. I have a program on my computer that is a called a smart mailbox and I can have all that mail from them go to their own mailbox.

    Another thing I do, is I have a yahoo email address that I use whenever I order anything. Because every business you order from sends tons of ads. That way it doesn't clutter my mailbox.

    Check out Pam's post yesterday for ways to handle that also. She talks about folders to organize your incoming mail.

  35. Janet what are you talking about? Who has red X's? Maybe something is wrong with your computer.

  36. Its 10 pm here in Arizona so I'm off for the night. Since there were two interested in the book, I'm calling a tie. Jessica and Cathy S, I'll email you tomorrow to get your snail mail address. Congrats

  37. Great post, Sandra! And I'll pay you later for making everyone who clicks on Cheryl come to my website instead. ;)


    I use Network Solutions. It's about as easy as Blogger to update. The main thing I need to work on, though, is to get a designer to come up with something original so I'm not using a template. I have a friend who does graphic design, so I think I'm going to hire her. I also need to update more often! :)

    Congrats to the winner(s) of Sandra's book!! It's a gorgeous book. You and your kids will love it!!

  38. Sandra,

    I'm thrilled to win the book for my kids. Thanks so much for your generosity with information and with books!

    Cathy S.

  39. I like this post!! Vista Print offers free business cards...