Thursday, March 13, 2008

Beginnings, Ends, Middles... and now "Prologues"

Okay, so far this week, we’ve talked about beginnings, endings, then middles. Now I want to mention the “prologue”. :)

What can you do to prepare before you get The Call from an editor?

1.Reserve your domain name. And don’t play around looking it up, then wavering on whether or not to do it. Check prices at all the sites, choose a site, then search for your choice name. If it’s available, buy it right then! Apparently, there’s some way for sneaky “entrepreneurs” to find out when someone has been searching for a particular name, and they buy the name, then offer it to you for an outrageous price. I’ve heard of this happening to a couple of friends.

2. Go ahead and set up a simple website. I had a simple one-pager (that I got for about $15 a year) that had a bio, photo, and contest news/writing credits. Once I sold my short story to BelleBooks, I was able to add that to the top of the website as soon as I got that call. Then after getting the call from Steeple Hill, I added that news as well. I maintain the site myself so I can update easily. Once my book release drew near, I added 4 more pages to the site, which is fairly easy since I already had all the colors and graphics picked out. (If you’d like to see what you can do by yourself with absolutely NO knowledge of web design or HTML, you can check out http://www.missytippens.com/.)

3. Have a good promotional photo made. If you final in the Golden Heart, they’ll want a 300 dpi shot for the website and promotions. So be prepared and have that on hand (hey, you’ve gotta think positively!). It’ll come in handy even before you sell if you do workshops or programs for RWA and ACFW chapters, since they may promote it on their websites. You can also use the photo on your new website and on your blog.

4. Write up two or three bios: one regular length (2-3 paragraphs), one short (1 paragraph that won’t be too long for someone to use to introduce you verbally), and possibly a very short one (just a line or two that can almost be your brand or tagline). They’ll all come in handy at some point, and you don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel each time someone asks you for one.

5. Keep good records and receipts for tax purposes even if you don’t plan to claim your writing expenses. You never know what year you might sell!

6. Make a decision about blogging and social networking sites. I won’t encourage one way or the other, because it all depends on you. But you need to consider whether or not it’s something you want to do. If it is, why not go ahead and get started? It would be great to have an established reader base before the sale, even if it’s not huge.

7. Attend conferences if possible, meet editors and agents, enter contests, meet other writers. Networking is hard for a lot of writers, because I think a good many are introverts (I am). But it’s an important part of the business. So step out of your comfort zone and get your name out there.

8. Volunteer for RWA/ACFW chapters and writing organizations. It’s a great way to network while you serve the organization. You’ll also meet some great writing friends!

9. Be very careful what you say in public forums. You never know when publishing professionals are lurking. Don’t air your dirty laundry on an email loop or a blog. I think we sometimes forget that blogs aren’t a private conversation! I know sometimes I google my name and find comments I’ve made on other blogs. It’s a bit unsettling! So be careful.

10. We all need to remember that we’re selling a product. It’s not our special baby. (Well, it is, but we can’t treat it that way. :)) So we have to be prepared to take editorial criticism and learn to be thankful for the help! The editors only want to make our writing better. Along these same lines, don’t be a prima donna. We want to make editors’ lives easier so they have an easier time deciding to buy our manuscripts.

For example, Editor at Your Dream Publishing House receives two equally good manuscripts. One is from Author P, a pill to work with (the editor met her while Miss P coordinated a contest). Author D, a dream to work with, had an appointment with the editor at a conference, and they really clicked. So if Miss Editor only had a spot to buy one, which do you think dream editor would choose to purchase?

Try to be easy to work with! And be dependable on deadlines and such.

Okay, that’s enough rambling for today. I hope it gave some ideas about what you can do in your “prologue” to publishing. Any other ideas? What have you done already?

Missy

9 comments:

  1. YOU DID YOUR WEBSITE YOURSELF????

    I need details Missy. How'd you do this? I know...you're smart. I suppose that's the leg up I need, huh?

    But I've just found it so frustrating to try and figure it out, I've given up. Did you buy web building software, like Front Page? Or did your ... whatever, host or server or whatever the right word is, have templates?

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  2. What I have done to prepare for publishing.

    1. Married my web guy.

    2. Found a great hairdresser.

    3. Trained my cat to bark at anyone who bothers me while I am writing.

    4. I have practiced signing books.

    5. I have annoyed the heck out of complete strangers by telling them I am going to be a famous writer.

    That's it for now.

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  3. Mary, there are some easy web building programs out there. My site, http://hopechastain.homestead.com is hosted by & built with Homestead which is WYSIWYG technology (What You See Is What You Get). It's really easy to use. About $129 a year for one domain name (which I use on my music website). I could pay more and have more than one domain name, or I could get it through something else.

    You can also build sites at Yahoo Geocities (http://www.geocities.com) more easily than ever. They have templates if you want to start with something simple, and it's drag & drop technology. Or, if you know HTML, you can build it from scratch any way you want. I've done several websites using Geocities. You can get a site for free, or upgrade for a small fee. I think they have a fairly decent fee for an ad-free site with its own domain name.

    I can only hope I'll get published under my pen name before someone grabs the name.

    Missy, this is great advice! Thanks so much! I'm finishing revisions before sending the book to my cp. :-)

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  4. Missy, what great advice! You rock!

    And Tina married her web guy. And he's two-thumbs-up cute.

    I knew there was a reason I disliked her.

    And her cat barks.

    So not fair.

    Missy, I loved your advice about being the author an editor wants to work with. That's an important lesson learned and the common sense of your blog tells it all.

    Good going, girl!

    Ruthy

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  5. Mary, I use Network Solutions and they have templates. YOu just fill your stuff in like you do on Blogger. I love it!

    Tina, thank you so much for including the hair stylist! I had forgotten that important point. LOL I love your additions. :)

    Hope, best of luck with the revisions and critique! I'm at that stage, too. And thanks for the website info.

    Ruthy, I'm glad you visited. That editor relationship was written specifically for you. ;) (hee, hee, couldn't resist!)

    Thanks for stopping by, ladies!

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  6. Oh, and practice signing your autograph for a couple of hours at a stretch -- get the hands in shape.

    Freeze food ahead for your next deadline. LOL

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  7. I did my "sample" website myself...and I'm afraid it shows. LOL And I can't get a head shot right now...My sister did my highlights last weekend and I looklike a dime store blond!!! Help!

    Love the advice...

    Kit

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  8. Missy,

    Great information! Thanks for sharing.

    For those who would someday like to learn how to create their own web pages, I suggest visiting boogiejack.com/ Dennis is a great guy and provides a simple tutorial on html and other scripts.

    Blessings,
    Catherine

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