Tag Archives: books

What Is The Most Effective Way To Market A Book?

Here’s a question for you: How long did it take you to write your book?

Did you spend a few months on it? Maybe you spent a few months just on the first draft. Maybe it took you a few years and fifteen to twenty drafts until you sent it your publisher or moved forward with KDP.

It probably didn’t take you a few hours. It probably didn’t take you a few days. It probably didn’t take you a week. If it did, please do reach out, I’d love to know your secret.

You have invested an ENORMOUS amount of time into your book. Why? Because you have a creative vision. And you want to share your creative vision with the world.

Of course, most authors could hardly claim that they are able to share their creative vision with the world. In fact, the average self-published digital-only book sells just 250 copies in its lifetime. As for traditionally-published books, they tend to sell approximately 3,000 copies in their lifetime, with only around 250 to 300 of those sales coming in the first year.

Does that sound scary?

It can be, if you’re banking on 300,000 copies sold and your book being featured on Oprah’s Book Club. While it would be crazy to tell you that you’ll have a bestseller on your hands if you try this method (although that is within the realm of possibility), I can tell you that it will produce better results for you than doing nothing. It also tends to be far more effective than most other marketing strategies.

Without further ado, let’s get to it.

Get Interviewed On Podcasts, Radio, YouTube, TV, and Blogs

If you’re on a traditional publisher, you’re likely to be in a great position; most connect their authors to publicists.

My forthcoming co-authored book, The Book of the Magical Mythical Unicorn, has been helped immensely by G.L. Davies, my rockstar of a publicist at John Hunt Publishing. G.L. was able to get me an appearance this September on a nationally syndicated radio program in the U.S. that reaches over one million listeners. That’s not even mentioning the many other impactful bookings he has landed for me and many other authors affiliated with John Hunt Publishing.

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Now if you’re self-published, you already know that the buck stops with you.

There are two options that self-published authors (or traditionally-published authors without publicists) can take.

Agencies like Anthony Mora Communications (who I highly recommend working with) or other PR firms can deliver big results for you, but the price may at first seem way too high for many authors.

I ask you to think a little deeper.

Let’s say you spend $4,500 per month for four months of partnership with a public relations firm like Anthony Mora’s. That’s $18,000. That’s not exactly a $4 cup of coffee. Most authors who don’t have trust funds or offshore bank accounts would initially balk at such a figure.

However, what if they were able to get you 4,500 copies sold?

You’d break even with a $4 royalty from Amazon per book sold.

With a talented and reputable PR firm like Anthony Mora Communications that can get you major media attention, that $18,000 is well worth it and quite likely to be recouped. It’s very likely that you will not only break even, but far surpass your initial spend.

If you write nonfiction within a topic connected to your business or freelance work (or even if you write fiction or your book has nothing to do with your side hustles), the added attention will also have a good chance of rocketing those sales numbers up as well.

But let’s say you don’t have that kind of money to invest, even on a month-by-month basis. You can still do it on your own.

Granted, it’s a far more time-consuming process. Your results will also be less impressive because you don’t have the same kind of connections or social savvy that a top-notch PR firm offers, but you can still get spots.

What I’d recommend in that case is to target smaller blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, and online radio programs in the beginning and then keep scaling up. If you’re within the same niche, you’re likely to get booked.

Why?

Because most content creators are desperately in need of content.

The Literary Game itself can be a place to get some free promotion.

We are currently accepting guest post submissions and interview queries. If your guest post pitch is on topic for our audience, it’s likely to get accepted (and if it’s off-topic but genuinely interesting, you have a good chance too).

Also, if you’re an author with an interesting backstory, you’re likely to get your interview request approved. You can email me if you need the extra promotion.

Here’s a tip: I love honesty.

You don’t need to lie and write in your email that The Literary Game changed your life or that I’m your favorite author. Just be upfront about your situation. I respect the hustle. Actually, it’s the thing I respect more than anything else in this life.

Ready to get started? Awesome! Give it a go.

For those authors who either don’t have a publicist supplied by their publisher or can’t hire a publicist because of financial reasons, be on the lookout for our upcoming post on how to cold pitch radio show producers, podcast hosts, YouTubers, and bloggers for interview spots. It’s a busy time with the forthcoming release of The Book of the Magical Mythical Unicorn, but I hope to have that one ready within a few weeks.

In the meantime, please share any questions you may have in the comments section.

Good luck!

-Alfonso

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 50 Favorite Novels

Introduction

I thought I’d have a little fun today and compile a list of my 50 favorite novels.

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First off, the rules.

I didn’t include any short stories, short story collections, poetry collections, screenplays, plays, nonfiction (creative or otherwise), or graphic novels. Every book on this list is a novel (well, there is one novella).

Also, this is a list of my 50 favorite novels, not a list of the 50 best novels in terms of literary merit. Nostalgia, my own personal taste, and the fact that I’ve only read a smidgen of the novels that have been written limit this to a very arbitrary list.

Without further ado, the list!

My 50 Favorite Novels

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  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  2. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  3. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  6. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  7. Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
  8. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
  9. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
  10. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  11. Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale by Chuck Kinder
  12. Skagboys by Irvine Welsh
  13. Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
  14. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  15. Native Son by Richard Wright
  16. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
  17. Women by Charles Bukowski
  18. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  19. 1984 by George Orwell
  20. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  21. The Plague by Albert Camus
  22. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  23. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  24. The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson
  25. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  26. The Group by Mary McCarthy
  27. Drop City by T.C. Boyle
  28. The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight
  29. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  30. Junky by William S. Burroughs
  31. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
  32. Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley
  33. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  34. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
  35. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  36. NW by Zadie Smith
  37. The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini
  38. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  39. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  40. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  41. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  42. The Fall by Albert Camus
  43. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  44. The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis
  45. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  46. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
  47. Plainsong by Kent Haruf
  48. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
  49. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  50. Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Feedback

Now, here’s where I turn it back to you with a few questions:

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How many of these novels have you read?

Do you hate any of the books on this list? Why?

What’s on your list of 50 favorite books?

Comments and feedback are always appreciated!

Fighting the good fight with you,
Alfonso

Six Different Ways To Write Your Conclusion

The beginning of your novel is easy. The ideas flow out and you’re writing at least 3,000 words a day.

The middle of your novel starts to become arduous, but you still know where you’re going with your story. Maybe you’re down to about 1,000 words a day.

Now you’re at the finish line and it has become a nightmare because you have no idea how to artfully end your book. Sound like a situation you’ve faced before? If so, read on for a few different ways to conclude your novel or short story.

  1. Open-Ended – In this approach, readers determine what happened because the writer intentionally leaves the ending open to interpretation.
  2. Traditional – A clear-cut ending with no ambiguity. Readers know exactly what happened and why.
  3. Back To The Beginning – The writer revisits the same/similar image or situation as at the beginning of the story.
  4. Thoughts – A character, usually the protagonist, sinks into reflection.
  5. Dialogue – Characters have a conversation.
  6. Symbolism – Details that allude to something important are presented.

Which approach have you used in your novel/s or short stories? Why did you choose that approach? 

 

30 Books You Must Read If You Want To Become A Literary Badass

In The Literary Game, I repeatedly mention the simple three-step process necessary for success in the literary world:

  1. Get to writing.
  2. Have your work edited.
  3. Find appropriate places to publish.

However, in truth, no matter how excellent an editor or publishing consultant you choose to work with, all your efforts will probably be for naught if you are not well-read.

Reading more is one of the most critical things that you can do to become a successful writer. Without a truly voracious love for the written word, your work will likely be stale and not publishable. There are exceptions, but they are VERY rare, and you are probably NOT the exception.

Personally, as an author, I take it as an affront when writers do not read at all. I view those individuals as carpetbaggers. While some writers read more than others, as dependent on their lifestyle and other factors, it is important that all writers actually read, both to improve their own work and to support the profession as a whole.

My own writing tends to bridge the gap between literary fiction and alternative literature. If you write in either genre, getting familiar with a few of these books is essential. Also, if you write in a different genre, but just want a good read, consider the following:

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil – This isn’t a novel, but rather a recollection of the original 70s punk scene from the figures who lived it.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers – Four outsiders in a small southern U.S. town search for acceptance and a reprieve from their alienation.

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor – Like all of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories/novellas, this one is dark and saturated with religious themes.

Cathedral by Raymond Carver – In my opinion, this is the best collection of Raymond Carver’s short fiction.

The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson – A young American journalist goes to Puerto Rico, makes a barebones salary, gets drunk, gets laid, and tries to avoid being killed by the locals.

Women by Charles BukowskiThe red pill of male-female interactions told only as Bukowski could.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – “I had to stop reading this because I started seeing people as meat.” – My friend Ben. That about says it all.

NW by Zadie Smith Two best friends navigate cross-cultural issues in modern day England.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – The best prose writer alive.

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shtenygart – For those sad bastard moments.

Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth – Neurosis encapsulated.

Taipei by Tao Lin – Hipster life in the 21st century.

Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale by Chuck Kinder – The story of two hard-partying, life-wrecking buffoons who eventually make it as successful writers.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – Perhaps the best book written in the 21st century.

The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem – From outcast white kid in a slowly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood to liberal arts college party boy to young professional. No, I cannot relate to this story in any way!

The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight – An entire movement was born out of this book (Islamic punk).

Demonology by Rick Moody – An incredibly sharp collection of short fiction.

Junky by William S. Burroughs – Easily William S. Burroughs’ most accessible work.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – Satan comes to Moscow. Not going to make a Putin joke.

A Crackup at the Race Riots by Harmony Korine – This is postmodern writing done by the director of Gummo and Spring Breakers.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole – One of the funniest books I have ever read.

Skagboys by Irvine Welsh – Explore how the lads of Trainspotting became junkies.

Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley – An interesting fictional look into the world of tobacco lobbying.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – A Greek-American family’s story as told through several generations, including through the life of a hermaphrodite.

Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon – Within 24 hours, your wife divorces you and you’re fired. What else can you do but drive across America talking to people? The finest travel writing I have ever read and a personal inspiration to me as both a writer and free spirit.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn – Carnies are people too.

Plainsong by Kent Haruf – If you like sparse prose, Haruf was the master.

Black Hole by Charles Burns – In this graphic novel, a weird sexually transmitted disease is spread in suburban Seattle in the 1970s.

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney – Writing in the 2nd person that is actually good!

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes – A quote from the character Enid Coleslaw: “These stupid girls think they’re so hip, but they’re just a bunch of trendy stuck-up prep-school bitches who think they’re ‘cutting edge’ because they know who ‘Sonic Youth’ is!”

In success,
Alfonso Colasuonno
Publisher, The Literary Game

 

Five Ways to Effectively Market Your Self-Published Book

In previous posts, I’ve been quite critical of self-published books. The reason for my reluctance to advocate that writers go that route is that quite often self-publishing is a complete dead end. Virtually no one ends up reading the average self-published book. Of course, there are many exceptions, but this is the case for the vast majority of books published with vanity presses.

Self-published books have a bad reputation because many could have benefited from a massive edit on content, and oftentimes even on basics like spelling and grammar; however, there are quite a number of incredible books that deserve to be read that have been self-published.

So, how do you keep your self-published book from getting lost in the sea of anonymity? Here are a few helpful suggestions:

1. Tell Your Friends and Family. By tell your friends and family, I don’t mean just your closest friends, your partner, and your mom and dad—tell EVERYONE in your network. Find appropriate, non-awkward ways to pitch your book to everyone you know. Explain that you would deeply appreciate it if they read your book and if they tell others about it afterwards. If you go the traditional route and just plaster social media, very few of your contacts will actually proceed with reading it, much less helping you publicize your book; however, if you treat your contacts respectfully by approaching them individually, you’ll get much better results.

2. Leverage Your Life. Whatever passions, work, and undertakings you are a part of, find an appropriate way to connect your book to them. Whatever base you have in your area of expertise, find a way to connect it with your book in a way that’s respectful of that world.

3. Become An Internet Player. The Internet is democratic. If people like your ideas and your presence, and most especially, if you’re helpful to others, people will respond. The best way is to start a blog, frequent message boards, become a beta reader, of find other ways to help writers via the Internet. The more writers you help, the more people will be open to reading your work and helping you promote it.

4. Make a YouTube Promo. YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. Try making a captivating video to promote your book in a way that it might go viral. If it’s just a direct pitch to buy the book, few viewers will care, but if the video itself will stick in people’s minds, you’ll get many new readers.

5. Have a Website for the Book. If you’re good with technology, develop an aesthetically pleasing, content-rich search engine optimized website to promote your book. If not skilled in that regard, hire a web designer and SEO expert. Either way, you need a website for your book. If possible, try to make the website as interactive as possible. If you simply ask people to buy your book, yet you don’t really help others or interact with them, few people will take you up on your offer.

I hope these ideas are helpful if you choose to go the self-publishing route.

-Alfonso

No Publisher Should Ever Be Overlooked

When you’re an aspiring writer, any offer to publish your writing should be accepted graciously!

Now, I don’t necessarily mean vanity presses, but that’s a post for another day. Any competitive press or literary magazine that would like to publish the manuscript of your novel, poetry, or short fiction should (in most cases) be accepted wholeheartedly.

There are certain places that everyone would like to publish with. Of course you’d probably like to publish with The New Yorker, Granta, Glimmer Train, Tin House, PANK, Word Riot, or any of the Big 5 publishers—so would every other writer; that doesn’t mean that the obscure journal with a subscription list of 1,000 should be overlooked.

The fact is that any competitive press is just that—competitive. They screen out lots of writers’ work. If any publisher or press likes what you’ve sent them, that’s a huge victory. It’s not a slight to get published somewhere that isn’t widely known, even amongst literary crowds. Keep in mind that the big publishers pay attention and are always scouting for new talent. If nothing else, you are building quite a portfolio.

The reality is that it’s just not common for most writers to start at the top of the heap, unless they have a wide platform from being notable for some feat other than writing. If you have the chops to get published, no matter where, that’s a huge victory. Embrace it. The journals and presses that you may be seeking to publish with quite possibly may take note, and soon you will be on your way!

-Alfonso

Six Ways to Write Creatively

If you’re an aspiring writer, you may find yourself drawn to one specific type of creative writing. This post intends to be a quick guide to different types of writing. Feel free to play around and see what may happen if you try a different direction.

Poetry

If you have a background as a musician, write lyrics, or rap, you may want to try poetry. Contrary to what you may have heard, it doesn’t have to rhyme. In fact, rhyming poetry is pretty much passé. If you can make your writing have a musicality to it, give poetry a try!

Short Fiction

Have you tried to write a novel and got stuck somewhere along the line? Are you a part of the ADHD generation? Try short fiction! Just keep in mind that short fiction requires a different approach from a novel. In short fiction, you aren’t telling a whole narrative, but merely presenting a snapshot. If brevity is a strong point, give short fiction a try!

Novels

Do you have patience? If your answer isn’t an unequivocal yes, beware of the novel. The novel is often seen as the only “real” type of writing by many aspiring writers, but that’s simply not true; all creative writing has merit. While practically all writers love reading novels, please note that this is an ambitious goal. If you have the patience, desire, and organizational skills to tackle a novel, then go for it!

Creative Nonfiction

Is your life so interesting that you don’t need to even make things up? Why not try writing creative nonfiction? In creative nonfiction, you take the same approach as you would to a novel or short fiction, but the difference is you draw from your own real experiences. Remember this though, just because it happened doesn’t mean it’s interesting. Make sure to write in the same way you would approaching something fictional!

Screenplays

Be honest, do you prefer watching a good movie to reading a good book? If so, you might want to try writing a screenplay. Remember that writing a screenplay is different from a novel or short fiction, as you are writing with a focus on the visuals. If you’re less a “pure” writer and more of an all-around creative, you may want to give writing a screenplay a try!

Plays

Do you have a flare for the dramatic? Are you an actor? Do you find writing dialogue to be remarkably easy, but description and introspection to be harder to execute? Try writing a play! Just remember to keep focused on the fact that this will take place on a stage and write accordingly.

My Top Fifteen Authors

As we all know, writers are readers. While it’s incredibly helpful (and fun) to read across all boundaries, sometimes reading the crème de la crème can teach you a few tricks.

My list of top fifteen authors is subjective. I can’t imagine how a list like this couldn’t be. Here goes:

1. Flannery O’Connor – O’Connor’s work makes you feel uncomfortable. She was completely uncompromising.

2. Raymond Carver – I don’t believe that any writer expressed the mundane better than Carver.

3. Carson McCullers – The sensitivity in which McCullers portrayed outsiders in the Southern milieu remains incredibly powerful.

4. Junot Diaz – No author writes better prose than Diaz. No author can grab your attention better than him. I think he’s the best writer alive.

5. Misti Rainwater-Lites – You probably haven’t heard of her, but in a better world you would have. She’s only the best writer in the underground presses.

6. Philip Roth – Roth details the American Jewish experience in rich detail. No author writes more vivid characters.

7. Jennifer Egan – Egan is the total package. Her work is futuristic and mechanical, almost post-narrative, yet coherent and captivating.

8. Kent Haruf – “Country” writing at its finest. Haruf is a master of “conservative” lit.

9. Jeffrey Eugenides – Eugenides is an ambitious storyteller. Middlesex may just be the best work of American fiction ever penned.

10. Fyodor Dostoevsky – The soul of Russia, for better or worse. Dostoevsky was a true existentialist.

11. Michael Chabon – Chabon is perhaps the most “weighty” of modern writers.

12. Zadie Smith – Smith is sharp. She can give Chabon a real challenge for his title.

13. Jonathan Lethem – As a Brooklyn-born writer, I hold a special affinity for Jonathan Lethem. I wish I had written The Fortress of Solitude.

14. Mikhail Bulgakov – I’m obviously partial to the Russians. Master and Margarita is a fierce book.

15. Richard Russo – Russo writes without flourish better than almost anyone.

Who are some of your favorite authors? Why not make a post of your own and comment below with a link to your blog?

Can’t Get Your Novel Published?

Platform.

Do you know what this word refers to in conjunction with the publishing industry?

Platform is the reason why Lena Dunham landed $3.7 million for her book proposal. If you want to sell a manuscript, more than the quality of your content (though it should certainly be up to snuff), you need to develop a reputation. If you’re thinking that your reputation is going to come from your book, you’ve got it backwards.

There are many ways to develop your platform. If you have public exposure in some way, you’re already set. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to most of us and it can be hard to generate (I’ll leave that to others far more qualified than I am if your intent is to get famous). However, a solid portfolio of writing in other forms can do wonders for establishing a ready-made audience eager to read your book (which any publishing company would love).

A novel is a huge undertaking. I certainly think all writers should attempt one, but consider the following diverse forms as a way to gain exposure and increase your chances of selling your idea for a book:

Poetry – Whether it’s traditional or free-verse, avant-garde or transparent, there are tons of poetry journals that always are seeking quality expression.

Short Fiction/Flash Fiction – Scale back your world building and capture a photograph. That’s the art of the short story. Again, there are tons of literary magazines that are always in search of quality fiction. Regardless of your style, there’s a market for everything (of quality).

Plays – Why not write a play, send it to a contest, or work with your local theatre to have it staged?

Screenplays – Think with an eye for the visual. There are some excellent television programs and films that are quite a bit more literary than most fiction (e.g. Mad Men, my favorite program). If you want to sell your script, there’s an excellent book written by Blake Snyder called Save The Cat! that gives an insider’s view into what kind of scripts sell in Hollywood and how to write them.

Nonfiction – Do you have expertise in a subject? It’s so easy to write an E-book and publish it on the Web. While fiction can be harder to attract an audience, with nonfiction there’s always a built-in audience for just about every topic.

Freelance Journalism – Yes, the pay is terrible, but your name can get out there with some rather influential people.