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Marketing Thoughts – An Argument Against Social Media

The best marketing for a writer is their own writing, showcased at an ad-free website kept current by frequent blogging. I don’t see any value in Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Maybe a LinkedIn presence if you want a social media feed.

Time spent pursuing more followers on social is misdirected. What’s the hope? That your tweet on the Canadian bobsled team lands you a job? Good luck.

A better proposition is to spend time directly targeting employers with queries instead of hoping chance will bring them to you. Keep sending out article suggestions, book proposals and job applications.

Developing more followers seems a waste of time. Whether you have one hundred or one thousand followers makes little difference to a harried editor who looks at two hundred article proposals a year, only to accept twenty that meet her editorial requirements and which captures her imagination.

Time and chance happens to us all. Your query on the frogs of Borneo might elicit a spirited reply from an editor who just visited Southeast Asia, or stony silence from an editor who despises the slimy things. In either case, you have to research a publication, draft a winning query letter, and solider on past disappointment.

I understand with books that there may be a difference. Increasingly, editors want you to bring an audience to them. More followers could help. But what kind of time will this take from working on your writing? Ideally, your website writing would reflect on the book you have in mind. Let me go off on a tangent.

I get the most likes on this blog when I write about poetry. Should I, therefore, write more about verse than prose? I am not a poet but I can see why people tailor their sites to their statistics. Your call. But you may wind up far from your calling.

It may be better to forget likes and followers and continue to work toward what counts: satisfying yourself and meeting the needs of an editor. Note that I did not say pleasing the reader. Your editor comes first. After your query is accepted, then comes the reader, following the editor’s guidelines.

As to how the editor gets to know your work, that is for your query letter and your online portfolio. As to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, I see them as time bandits and no substitute for a comprehensive writing website.

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News and Notes

Poetry and Fiction Course Dropped

After due deliberation (internal link), I have dropped my poetry and fiction class. I just have too much to do at the moment. Perhaps I can come back to personal enrichment at another time.

Newsmastering Example

My newsmastering work (internal link) continues at a furious pace. But it’s not writing all the time, far from it. Most of the work consists of searching for the one, two, or three stories that will make a day a success. Take a look at the screen shot below. In a four hour period, twenty leads have come in. I’d say I’m getting at least sixty Google alert leads a day.  Each of these entries, many of them duplicates, have to be looked at to see whether they could make up a suitable entry for the trial lawyer I am blogging for. It’s rather like fighting a never-ending snowstorm; the leads pile up higher and higher the longer I go between looking at my mail.

Book Pitch Sent In

Any day I send in a book proposal is a good day. In this case, I wrote out a few paragraphs to an editor I had corresponded with before. There’s no need, I think, to do a complete proposal to an editor once you have established your credentials. By this, I mean if the editor is familiar with you, even if he or she has turned down all of your proposals before, I think you can do pitches (internal link) like you might do with a community newspaper or a hardcopy magazine. The idea is not to waste anyone’s time. They’ll let you know if your idea warrants refining. You won’t get a book deal with a short pitch, but you might get the go ahead to develop your idea further.

Ham License Exam Study Continues

I continue to study online for my next amateur radio exam (internal link), this time for what is called a General License. The General allows one to transmit on HF or high frequencies, what most people know as shortwave. The technician class license I have now is mostly limited to local working, although some repeaters in my area are linked to the internet. Through these “repeaters,” I have the possibility of talking to people in Japan, Russia, and Norway. All with a handheld radio.

BioBlitz is Getting Closer

I’m also preparing for the lichen BioBlitz (internal link) coming up at Great Basin National Park. I am looking forward to the lichens and to the deep, dark skies. My big disappointment is that I so far have no magazine or newspaper that wants me to write about it. I think it’s an interesting story, certainly, but no one else does. For my part, I really haven’t pursued queries like I should have. Instead, I’ll take my good camera and record as much as possible in writing about my experience. Perhaps I’ll find a home for an article sometime down the road.

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Stanton Delaplane Thoughts on writing Writing tips

Update on My Book Proposals

My Stanton Delaplane (internal link) book proposal has now been turned down twice. I think that’s just getting started for most writers; two proposals barely a beginning. I do think, though, that I am going to reorient my proposal. Instead of a book featuring his writing on all kinds of subjects, I am going to limit my anthology or reader to just his animal stories. A small title, no more that thirty or forty six-hundred word columns. I might even consider self publishing the book, as I think such a title would make a wonderful book and I don’t want to lose Delaplane to history. If I find the money I’d consider getting an illustrator. I did get a nice rejection letter from one publisher. Here it is:

Dear Mr. Farley:

Thank you for thinking of us for your proposed Stanton Delaplane reader. I’d never heard of Mr. Delaplane, and I was charmed by your inclusions. A lot of thought, care, and affection has gone into this proposal, and I appreciate that. It’s a lovely and nostalgic piece of SF history. I see the resonance with our mission, but I fear that this project would be challenging from a financial and business point of view for us. I see this being a tough sell in a fiercely competitive marketplace, and we need for our books to sell at certain levels to not only recoup expenses that go into their production but also help support our overall organization in a meaningful way. I’m sorry to disappoint you, and I hope you find a better home elsewhere. Self-publication might be an option if you’re committed to seeing this book in print (I suspect you could negotiate very low fees from the Chronicle) and able to do some marketing to get it in the hands of those readers who would treasure it. Depending on the production quality, I suspect a handful of SF bookstores would be happy to carry the book.

Kind regards,
The Publisher

My Nevada Agriculture book proposal (external link) isn’t going anywhere. Despite limited interest, the University of Nevada Press and the Nevada Farm Bureau have declined to help. Two private foundations are also unable to supply funding and I have exhausted the resources in Nevada that might assist. Self-publishing this book would be impossible due to the costs involved. A two hundred page book in color would be very expensive to print and the project would take me a year of full time work to do. The problem is that Nevada is a small state in population and the market for the title isn’t that big. I might consider publishing houses that cover the Great Basin in general but for right now I am leaving this book idea alone.

And, I have a blue sky book proposal floating that I haven’t written about before. I call it blue sky because I am proposing not just a single new book, but a raft of new books, a new title series for a large publisher. I put together a heavily illustrated 14 page .pdf file to show what a book in the new series might look like. Preparing this file put my new camera to good use and I have just sent the proposal off. I can’t discuss it until something comes about; with all companies that means weeks and perhaps months of waiting. But I am enthused about the project because it would mean a number of titles I could publish myself with little expense save for travel. I would much prefer a large publishing house pick the idea up, of course, but at least I have a way to go if no one is interested. This proposal got me out to different places around Las Vegas and that made me happy. Here’s what Spring Mountain Ranch looks like right now.

 

 

 

 

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Tracking Queries With Google’s Calendar

I’m now using Google’s Calendar feature (external link) to keep track of queries. I wish I used it before. It’s a free service with a Google account. You already have it if you use Gmail.

The calendar is pretty straight forward to use. I note each date I send in a query. I then schedule a query follow up in two weeks or two months, whatever is appropriate. I get an e-mail when this happens so I don’t have to keep checking the calendar. Setting up e-mail delivery is a little confusing. First the big picture, then the small. Here’s what part of a calendar page looks like. We’re on the left hand side.

On my Mac, using Chrome, everything happens on the left. There’s a “Settings” feature at the upper right corner of the browser window (not pictured), but that doesn’t control notifications, which is what you want. Instead, look to the left side for those choices. Notice that tiny downward symbol next to the “My Calendars” selection? Click that and you will get to the notification settings.

Here’s what the next window should look like. Make sure you select “email” when you choose your delivery method. Selecting the alternate, “notification”, will only give you a fleeting message on your computer screen. Which you will probably miss.

Google’s calendar feature is fairly simple and free. It keeps me aware of the book proposals, literary magazine submissions, and magazine article queries I make. It keeps past entries so I can always check back later on when I sent something in.

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Trying to Find a Private Foundation

There hasn’t been enough interest in my Nevada agriculture book proposal so I am turning to private foundations for help. This is unexplored territory for me.

I know that foundations and large corporations are run by boards of directors. These boards meet infrequently so I could be waiting a long time for them just to get together. Also, each board or foundation has different rules for entertaining proposals. Some foundations are off the web, requiring hardcopy materials and conventional correspondence.

It hasn’t been all bad for Nevada Agriculture Past and Present. One press said they’d like to see a scholarly monograph of Nevada’a agricultural history but they weren’t interested in current practices. Another group expressed initial enthusiasm but has now changed their minds. I continue to work on the website devoted to the proposal. (external link)

Are you in Nevada and seeking a private foundation for your project? A kindly soul sent me this four year old .pdf. As they explained, contact people may be different, but most phone numbers and street addresses should still be good. Click here (internal link) or on the image to get the file.

 

 

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Musings on Book Proposals

On Saturday I went to my favorite used bookstore in Las Vegas, Amber Unicorn Books.(external link) As always, the same thought kept coming back to me as I looked over their heavily discounted book section: what publisher could have possibly approved these titles? How did these religious screeds, doubtful economic tracts, and tepid historical romances find a home? I know about Grumpy Cat. But is he really popular enough to merit a book series?

Right now I have two book proposals outstanding. Two book ideas I feel strongly should merit as much consideration as “the sacred aspects of indigenous, historical psychotropic and herbal healing beers of the world,” or “the time-honored traditions of Asian pickling.” I don’t mean to demean other authors. But it is easy to get discouraged when you see other ideas succeed while yours fail.

Years ago I saw the title below in a used book store. A few months later I saw another copy. This book has gone on to a second edition, and, if the cover art can be believed, now has a million copies in print. It seems there is a market for anything. Perhaps, then, two more?

howtoshitinthewoods

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A New Venture — Seeking a Co-Writer

For my book on Nevada agriculture I’ll need a qualified co-writer. I want to approach the University of Nevada Press but I am a non-academic and I have no college degree. What to do?

I prepared a working sample chapter. I then sent it off to two professors who had written a book similar to what I had in mind. I asked the professors for their recommendations or referrals. The sample chapter took quite a bit of effort but I thought it necessary. Ordinarily, with a book proposal, you would not do any layout or formatting. Your proposal would be on single sided paper, double spaced.

I think to find a co-writer, however, I need a different approach. I think by making up a working chapter, including maps and photos, that I bring my idea to life far better than by just sending a text file. If I do indeed find a co-writer then I can submit my book proposal to a publishing house in exactly the form they desire. First things first.

I’ve never worked with another writer on any of my projects so this will be a learning experience. Can all the details of a book be handled by e-mail or will face to face meetings be required? Could meetings be done with Skype? I personally favor e-mail, if I can go off on a tangent.

I find writing down thoughts is more productive than free-wheeling in face to face meetings. You can compose yourself better when you are forced to order sentences. You have time to respond with e-mail. In meetings you have to come up with a thought immediately. With writing you can think awhile. But I ramble.

E-mail or leave a comment if you have done any collaborative writing. I look forward to what you have to say.

collabrativewriting

bookreducedimage

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Thoughts on writing

The Rest of The Year

How have you been? I’ve been sick a week with a yet unidentified non-infectious virus. No writing done but lots of thoughts on same. As I struggle to get back to the keyboard, this timeline presents itself:

August 25, 2016: Submit anthology book proposal to either Chronicle Books or Heyday Books

September 2, 2016: Submit essay to the Bellevue Literary Review

January 5, 2017: Submit proposal for a different book to the University of Nevada Press

2017 may be the year of the book proposal for me, whereas 2016 was the year of writing newspaper and magazine articles.

This is a new writing world for me, something with far off deadlines and hope that must be sustained. Proposals take months to write as do any responses to them. Publisher after publisher must be contacted, with little expected. Still, I must write, and my brother’s experiences (internal link) gives me encouragement. All I  control is my writing and the quality of my research.

I’ll end with Kafka:

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

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