Category Archives: PublishingTip

How Marketable is Your Manuscript & Where? – Orr What? Wednesday

Market imageIs your goal to be published by a traditional print publisher? If your answer is yes, you must evaluate your manuscript in terms of what that marketplace demands. To do otherwise is less savvy than you need to be on your own behalf.

If your goal is commercial print publication you must be aware of the realities of that choice for the sake of your own psyche. Otherwise, you render yourself vulnerable to loss of effort and energy and worst of all hope – which can be disastrous to your psyche.

The first reality you must be aware of is this. The publishing market is super-cautious now. Skittish beyond its customary skittishness. Work that veers very far from customary publishing category expectations will have a rough time finding welcome.

The exception – a manuscript that is a truly extraordinary market-buster blockbuster bestseller masterpiece. Does this describe your work? Eliminate ego. Eliminate parental pride in your creation. Be hard of nose and heart and make a clearheaded judgment from that objective place.

Submitting your work now is looking for a job in a low-availability environment. Looking for the job of published author. Think in terms of making yourself and your work as attractive as possible within that narrow avenue of possibility. This effort begins with the work itself.

You must always submit only your very best work. That is extra valid now. Don’t expect an agent or editor to see through your imperfect manuscript to your perfect talent beneath. Editors are looking for perfection visible. Agents follow suit because they look for what editors want.

Your first marketplace search is most likely for an agent. Ask yourself, “What does this agent prefer to represent? Can I accommodate my work to those preferences?”

Research those preferences. Turn first to the internet. Does the agent have a website? Who does she represent and what do they write? Google the agent for articles written and statements made. What does she tell you there?

This is a sleuthing exercise. You must investigate – investigate – investigate. If you have your own sleuthing tricks or come up with some along the way share them with others. Don’t forget that all boats rise together.

What editors and publishers are looking for is an easier search. Check publisher websites. Google individual editors. Remember that the reception of an unsolicited – unagented – manuscript will be less welcoming than a solicited one via an agent.

Some publishers won’t consider unsoliciteds at all. I say, “Send it along anyway. What’s to lose? Except maybe that time, energy and psyche strength I mentioned?” So be aware that this is a Hail Mary and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Through all of this sleuthing and strategizing and planning – you are making lists with your manuscript always in mind. Where might it be most marketable? Who might find it most intriguing? What should you pitch most prominently to each target in order to maximize your chances of luring them into the lair of your work?

Do all of this with high ambition and a courageous heart and you will also maximize your marketability. And always – keep on writing whatever may occur.

RR

A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1 – the eBook – is FREE at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T9RVGGC. It’s also FREE at Barnes & Noble and iTunes and KOBO and other online platforms. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – is $2.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBOTH5O. These are my 12th and 13th novels. They were written for the non-traditional marketplace which is your other publishing option. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

THIS BOOK IS FREE!

THIS BOOK IS FREE!

A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1 –

GET A FREE EBOOK at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T9RVGGC

Free Book image 2“I loved it. AND I’m looking forward to reading the next in this series. The story was fast moving, believable, exciting, and well-developed. It’s important for me to like the characters in a book, yet they have to have some flaws, be three dimensional and “real.” Alice Orr delivered.” Amazon Review.

This is the first time I’ve made a book Permafree. A Wrong Way Home – the eBook will be a gift from now on to everyone. That’s how much I want to introduce you to my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series. This is Book 1 of the series.

“Romance, murder mystery, suspense, and in this book a heroine who is able to take care of herself and doesn’t need to be rescued by the hero. Can’t wait to see how the series grows.” Amazon Review.

Free Book image 1I’m thrilled by the enthusiastic reviews that have greeted A Wrong Way Home and welcomed me to the world of series writing which I love. Diving deeper with each book into the family and the small town and the deadly intrigues that are the core of the series are an adventure for me.

“I highly recommend this page-turner which is romance and suspense at its best.” Amazon Review.

Click the amazon.com link to get your free eBook http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T9RVGGC or go to my website for your free eBook from Nook or iBooks or Kobo and more. Find them at www.aliceorrbooks.com on the home page under the book cover of A Wrong Way Home.

AliceOrr_AWrongWayHome_POD[1][1]RR

 A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 is also available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBOTH5O. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

The City Romances Your Book – Ask Alice Saturday

Sunset Downtown NYC SkylineQuestion: How do I get attention for my little book in a big town?

Answer: First you stop thinking of your book as little. Definitely never speak of it that way. After you get over that – Persist Till You Prevail. Persist at your marketing plan which works the same way anywhere. It works from the inside out.

Walk out your front door. Look up and down the street. Don’t look at tall buildings or hurrying crowds. That’s how a tourist sees a city. A local resident sees it as a collection of neighborhoods. Each one different – like a collection of small towns.

Walk down your street. Really look and really see. Walk to the nearest coffee shop and sit down with your notebook. You did bring a notebook. You’re a writer after all. Order a java or fancy bottled water or – in my case – a Diet Coke and write these questions in your notebook. Answer them there too.

  1. What is the Spirit of my neighborhood? Trust your instincts. Don’t overthink. You might want to re-word this as – What is the FEEL of my neighborhood?
  1. What gives my neighborhood this Spirit and Feel? Be specific. You’re talking about overall uniqueness then breaking that down into these component parts. The organizations that function here. The stores and businesses that thrive here. The places where people gather here – people of all ages – including the elders. The places of worship – all denominations of worship and spiritual groups. Plus the venues that you brainstorm on your own.
  1. Where/how can I find out about my neighborhood? Is there such a thing as a paper and print yellow pages anymore? Maybe a Business to Business edition? And don’t underestimate the giveaway papers and pamphlets. Everything going on around you is in one of those. This is micro research – the Open Sesame to a neighborhood fan base.
  1. What do I have to offer that will appeal here? What about your story could strike a neighborhood note? Every situation and location will be individual to you and your place. Think – Imagine – Find your way to being noticed here.

For example my media mentor Maria Ferrer has a wonderful idea for my series set in Riverton NY. The town has a café called Ginny’s Coffee Corner that figures prominently in each story. Maria says to hold events in a coffee shop in my neighborhood and dub it Ginny’s for the day.

I’ve taken a step in that direction by offering giveaways of my favorite coffee mug. Go to my website www.aliceorrbooks.com. Sign up for my newsletter where you’ll find out how to participate in the “I Want to Share a Cuppa with Alice” coffee mug raffle.

I think you get the idea. Start from your home base to find your first fan base and reach out farther from there. Tell your fan base folks to spread the word beyond your address and your address book to theirs. And so it goes. You romance your home city. Then you and your books move on to romance the world.

RR

A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBOTH5O.  Book #1 – A Wrong Way Home – the eBook – is FREE at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T9RVGGC. These are my 12th and 13th novels and they’ve had a true romance everywhere from the start. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

How Far You Can Go – A Writer’s Business Plan Step 3 – Orr What Wednesday

Road Runner imageRefresher Course. A Writer’s Business Plan Step 1 – Work Your Butt Off. I told you about a high time I had with a long table full of clients back in my agent days. High in every respect because we were in a revolving restaurant at the top of a fancy hotel. And I got there by working my butt off.

Refresher Continued. A Writer’s Business Plan Step 2 – Do Everything Right. I told you about doing something crucial very wrong – my first lunch with an editor. Thank heaven she was a compassionate soul or I’d have made an even bigger fool of myself than I did. BUT I never let myself play the fool again.

Now we’re at Step 3. Which takes me back to the beginning when I had the wild idea to become a literary agent – my previous profession before becoming a full-time writer. Please forgive me if I digress to tell you where that brainstorm bright light epiphany idea came from.

I’d been enjoying a good run as an in-house book editor. I edited mystery novels – intense and demanding – no loose ends allowed. And Regency Romance novels – fun fun and more fun. So I had a good work balance going. Except for one thing. I was employed as an editor but I had the soul of a writer.

An editor’s job is to serve the interests of the publisher she works for. High – perhaps highest – among those interests is contract negotiation. The editor is supposed to get the writer to sign on the line for the least money and the most punitive terms possible. Sorry if that offends anyone. I don’t edit or write for a publishing house any more so I can be straight-from-the-hip all the way.

My main personal problem as an editor was my gift for contract negotiation. For some reason – probably my genetic gift of gab – I could whittle authors and their agents down down and down some more. But I didn’t like myself for doing it. So I decided to switch teams and use my negotiating skills on behalf of writers instead.

Then somebody told me I needed a Business Plan. “Why do I need a business plan?” I asked. “In case you have to go to the bank for a business loan,” was the answer. I couldn’t imagine wanting to deal with a bank that would trust me with their money at that tenuous point in my agent life. But I worried myself over the plan thing anyway.

I bought books at my favorite indie store – long-since gone. I researched in the library. This was back when we still did that. I checked out the internet too. What I found were basically templates and templates didn’t say much to me about what I wanted to accomplish in my career.

The truth was – at that point – I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to accomplish in my career. That lack of knowledge became the saving and the making of me as a businesswoman. I didn’t lock myself into specifics because I had no idea what they should be.

A single sentence popped into my head. “Let’s see how far I can go.” I wrote it on a sheet of paper and hung it on my office wall. That sentence turned out to be the brainstorm bright light epiphany I needed because it made all of what came afterward an adventure.

Granted I worked my butt off and enjoyed the successes and hotel-top parties that brought me. I also did my best to do everything right and when I fell sort I learned and changed tactics. The same way I changed tactics after my editor lunch debacle. Beyond that I kept the future open and my Velcro grasp at the ready to latch onto every opportunity that came my way.

Plus – I kept on keeping on in the direction of how far I could go at the fastest pace I could manage. Because – like the Road Runner – I know that Wile E. Coyote is back there. And even though he may not be so wily – coyotes have teeth.

I leap into my new adventure as a full-time writer with all of that in mind. If you asked me what you should do I’d advise the same. Let’s all of us simply See How Far We Can Go. My experience tells me we’ll be in for a happy surprise.

RR

My current novel is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – launches with summer on June 22nd. as my 13th novel.  Let’s see how far it can go. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

Do Everything Right – A Writer’s Business Plan Step 2 – Orr What? Wednesday

Excellence imageLast week I talked about A Writer’s Business Plan – Step 1. That step was basically this. You have to work your you-know-what off. I told a story of a top achievement moment for me and how I got there. You guessed it. I worked my you-know-what off. That’s a tough standard to maintain but the writing career route isn’t an easy trip.

Step 2 is equally tough and demanding. In order for you to succeed your Writer’s Business Plan must be built around excellence. To be more specific – you have to do every right. I understand nobody can actually do everything right. But you must make Doing Everything Right your goal and come as close as you can to achieving it.

This is most difficult with the challenges that scare us. When I started out as a literary agent the thing that scared me most was lunches with editors. A lot of my work for my clients was done in Manhattan restaurants at a narrow table with an editor from a New York City publishing house. I’d been one of those editors myself for a while but this was completely different.

I remember walking to my first editor lunch date as an agent. I was so frightened I didn’t know how I’d be able to eat because my stomach was in my throat crowded flat up against my heart. I kept telling myself one thing over and over again. “Don’t order anything that will fall off your fork.” No peas. No pasta that requires twirling. Nothing with lots of parts and sloppy sauce.

As it turned out I needed more preparation than that. I made it through the lunch hour mostly because the editor was a gracious soul. She recognized I was floundering and helped me along. “Tell me about some of the writers you represent,” she said. She’d kindly introduced the subject I should have introduced myself. I’m still grateful to her for that.

I never went unprepared to a professional lunch again. I made an advance plan for each one. I researched the editor and what she published. I made a list of specific clients and projects that would interest her. I memorized that list and how I’d pitch each project. I arrived at the restaurant early then kept my list out of sight and put on my brightest smile.

I didn’t bring up business until the after-the-meal coffee was being served. I didn’t take notes but I listened carefully. After our goodbyes I dashed to the nearest coffee shop and wrote down everything she’d said. Back at my office I accessed the client project most perfect for that editor and emailed it to her. Next day I messengered a backup hard copy as well.

I’d discovered the three stages of doing everything right. Stage 1 – Do your research. Come up with an action plan and a specific strategy for executing that plan. Stage 2 – When your boots are on the ground and the job has to be done follow your plan. But be flexible enough to detour when surprise opportunities arise. Stage 3 – Follow up. Follow up. Follow up.

A Writer’s Business Plan stages read like this. Stage 1 – Research your story. Plan your story. Pantsters will do less of this. Stage 2 – Put your you-know-what in a chair and work it off writing every day. Stage 3 – Get your story out there. Submit to traditional agents and editors. Or to your own hired editor who will make your story the best it can be before you indie publish it.

Fill out your own individual details for each of these stages. By the way – no negative thinking is allowed. You absolutely can do this. You’re already on your way to doing everything as right as you possibly can. And when you go to lunch with an editor let me offer a word of advice. If you’re doing everything right you won’t have time to eat.

RR

My current novel is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. Next is A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – launching with summer on June 22nd. These are my 12th and 13th novels and I’m trying to do everything right with both of them.  Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com

 

Writer’s Business Plan Step #1 – Orr What? Wednesdays

Hard Working Woman imageWhen I started the literary agency that was my last profession before becoming a full-time writer – somebody told me I had to have a Business Plan.

I wrestled with that for a long time. I read books on business plans. I did internet research. The suggestions I found all felt too dry and bloodless for what I was embarking upon. I was beginning an adventure.

So I settled on a single sentence. “Let’s see how far I can go.” I still stand by that sentence. But my experience of running a successful agency taught me this. There’s more to getting where you want to go than that one thing.

Now I’ve leapt into a new professional adventure and I need a new Business Plan. I look back on my former experience and ask myself this question. “What was my finest moment and what made that moment happen?”

The moment memory comes easily. A scene at a national writers’ conference. I’m hosting a client dinner at the top of the conference hotel. Solid windows all around and a revolving floor. The wait staff know it’s to be an evening of endless champagne. We’re celebrating 24 clients nominated for national awards.

I look around at everybody laughing and chatting and ask myself this question. “How can it possibly get better than this?” That was an apex of accomplishment for me. What made it happen? One answer to that shouts out loud and clear. I worked my you-know-what off.

This answer transfers seamlessly to my current adventure as not only a full-time writer but a full-time independently published author too. This is possibly the fullest plate I’ve faced in all of my working life. I’m an entrepreneur again.

How did I manage that so well in my agent days? To some degree I made it up as I went along the same way I make up stories now. Some up-front planning. Then I stay flexible and take advantage of inspiration and opportunities when they come my way.

I also studied everything I could find about the publishing business. Now I study book marketing. I feel close to overwhelmed sometimes by how much there is to learn. But I keep on studying anyway. Plus I try new things and use my ingenuity.

I succeed sometimes. Other times I fall short.  A Japanese proverb tells us to Fall down seven times – Get up eight. I’m far past those numbers now but I keep on falling down and getting up again. I pray I can continue to do that.

All of which amounts to Step #1 of the Writer’s Business Plan. We work our you-know-whats off.

RR

My current novel is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. Next is A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – launching with summer on June 22nd. These are my 12th and 13th novels and I worked my you-know-what off on both of them. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com