Monday, July 19, 2010
Welcome Debut Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor!
Missy, here. And I'm very excited to introduce you to my good friend and fellow blogger on the F.A.I.T.H. blog (another of my group blogs), Jennifer Hudson Taylor! I just finished Jennifer's debut novel from Abingdon Press, Highland Blessings, last week while at the beach (a rogue wave nearly ruined it, but I could still read the warped pages!). And it's so, so good! Great story, great writing. You don't want to miss this book! So I'm thrilled to have Jenn here today with advice for attending conferences. She specifically mentions ACFW, but if you're going to RWA National, you still have time to prepare!
So, here's Jennifer...
With the ACFW Conference coming up, author business cards tend to be a huge question for some. My advice is to provide a different set of cards for the conference for peers, editors and agents than you would for the general public—your readers. With today’s software and technology, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.
The reason I say this, is because you are networking with potential co-workers and colleagues. They need to connect with you, an image to remember, a way to contact you later—and you don’t want them getting lost in the flow of your general email box with all your other correspondence, potentially missing out on an email that could change your near future—getting you off unpubbed island. For this reason, I also recommend setting up two emails, one for general correspondence that you can promote online to readers you’ve never met, and one you never promote online, but reserve for professionals in publishing industry.
In the World Outside of Publishing
The purpose of business cards is to promote your business--the company for which you work. There is usually a small graphic for your logo and a tagline that will explain what kind of products and/or services your company provides, and your professional title will give people an idea of how you fit into that business.
If you are an author, forget the info above.
Be willing to change your mind-set.
Switch gears now.
The Author World
If you are an author, you ARE the business. The author is the company. Therefore, you are going to promote yourself. Your logo is your photo.
Your products are the books you write, and keep in mind that this changes as new ones are released.
Your service is the genre you write. Therefore, you need a tagline that promotes what you write--your genre or subgenre.
Because the Bible calls us to be humble servants, Christian authors worry that they are exalting themselves when they promote themselves and/or their work. We worry what others will think. We worry if God will be pleased or displeased. We never want to give the impression that we are exalting ourselves.
How can people hear about the message in our books--the stories and the help that God has given us to share with others, if we don't step out in faith and promote ourselves and our work?
You can be humble and still promote yourself. Give God the glory for all your work. Never forget who is helping you along the way. Remember who opens those doors for you. Be patient and kind to others, even when you're feeling tired. This is being called to humbleness. It is beyond putting our name and face out there to promote our books--the very gift that God has given us. Yet, without a photo, people don’t have a face, a mental image that will give them a connection.
So don't be afraid to use your photo on your promotional materials. People want to connect with you. They want to know who you are and that includes what you look like. It gives them a mental image to go by and it makes them feel like they know you better. Don't worry that you aren't supermodel material. If you want to be real to people, you can't be flawless. If you want to be humble, be yourself.
What to include on an Author's Business Card at a Writer’s Conference
1. Email Address
Your business card doesn't need to have a postal mailing address. Save it for the sell sheets and the book proposals. Provide your email address so they can contact you and connect with you after the conference. Most people prefer email—preferably a different email from your general email.
2. Your Photo
This helps people remember that interesting conversation they had with you so that it doesn't blur into the thousands of other conversations they might have had at the conference. Also, nothing is worse than looking for a 20-something person who no longer exists because someone hasn't updated their photo in 20+ years. Remember, use an updated photo. Think of it as another a humble experience to help you age with grace.
3. Website or Blog Url
Give people the ability to find out more about you if they are interested later. That way you're not trying to give out too much information to people who don't want it. Writing conferences can be overwhelming so try not to overload others with more than they can handle or need at the moment.
4. A Tagline
This will serve as a quick reminder of what you write without going into a detailed summary blurb. Besides, you might have written many different books, but what category do they all or most fall into? Use that if you don't have a creative tagline.
5. Your Name and/or Pen Name
If you write under a pen name, feel free to promote it, but use your real name. An editor or agent doesn't want to go around calling you Bob if your real name is Ben. Even if you don't mind, it will make them feel awkward when they discover their mistake. Help them out. They have to remember a lot of people with many different names and faces. Anything you can do to stand out from the crowd without annoying them will be a huge help and a great benefit to you.
6. Genre or Subgenre
If it isn't clear in your tagline, mention the genre or subgenre you write in. Be brief. If you write in more than one genre, simply list them. Don't worry about long explanations. Save it for your proposals.
7. Phone Number
List at least one phone number in case an agent or editor does want to call you for some reason--or maybe another author. Don't worry about listing all your numbers between your home, cell and work. Use the one that is less likely to change and where you will most likely be reached. This is one item you will want to omit on your general business cards that you hand out to readers and people who do not personally know you.
Some people will try to be creative with their business cards. If you can do it tastefully without making it look too busy--go for it. If you already have a customized website and/or blog, I recommend using a graphic or background that will match your online presentation since that is how most people will look you up--online.
Thanks, Jenn, for the great advice!
Jenn works full-time in addition to her writing, so I’m hoping she can drop by soon. In the meantime, have some nice strong Starbucks Sumatra coffee along with my fav Italian Sweet Cream creamer. Oh, and your choice of Splenda or real sugar. :) Also, I can’t resist a “Hot Now” sign at Krispy Kreme! So help yourself and dig in! And while we're hanging out, what's some of your best conference prep advice?
Jennifer Hudson Taylor is the author of historical and contemporary Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas. Her fiction has won awards in the American Christian Fiction Writers' Genesis Contest. Her debut novel, Highland Blessings, was released May 2010, and the sequel, Highland Sanctuary, will release October 2011. Other works have appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Everton’s Genealogical Publishers, and The Military Trader. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn't writing, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, genealogy, and reading. She resides with her husband and daughter in the Charlotte area of NC.
You can find her online at http://www.jenniferhudsontaylor.com.