Tag Archives: marketing

The Literary Game’s New Affiliate Marketing Program

Honest Book Reviews from The Literary Game

Here’s a question for you: Do you have six thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket right now?

I didn’t think so. Truthfully, neither do I.

The problem is, if you’ve completed your manuscript and are looking to either self-publish it or start pitching agents, you’re going to need it.

Why?

Because a developmental editor costs anywhere from $7.50 to $20 per page (250 words).

Imagine if you have a manuscript for a 90,000 word novel (an average word count). That translates to around 360 pages. At a bare minimum, you’re looking at spending $2,700, although fair rates can reach as high as $7,200.

Until recently, you had three ways to go if you didn’t want to pony up the money to hire a developmental editor:

  1. Skip hiring an editor altogether in a cost-cutting move and proceed forward. This will likely lead to rejections from agents who request your manuscript. You may have a great concept, but you’re only wasting their time and your own if you send them an unfinished product. And if you choose to self-publish, good luck building on an initial reputation for poor quality writing.
  2. Pass your manuscript over to friends to act as beta readers. I hope your friends are trained writers or editors. Also, in most cases, friends want to build your self-esteem. They’ll tell you your manuscript is excellent. It’s not. Not yet, at least. Being as close to the work as they are, writers are terrible at catching their own mistakes. That’s why we need editors.
  3. Hire an editor on the cheap. I’ve done this before and learned my lesson. My co-author Vakasha Brenman and I hired an editor to edit The Book of the Magical Mythical Unicorn for only $750. Her edits were next to useless. Sure, she caught some misplaced commas and gave one or two suggestions (both of which were historically inaccurate and rejected by me and my co-author). Ultimately, we had thrown our money down the drain. Vakasha and I had to spend another year revising The Book of the Magical Mythical Unicorn ourselves, before we had saved enough money to hire a qualified developmental editor. The results speak for themselves: We landed our first choice for a publisher and I was able to promote The Book of the Magical Mythical Unicorn on the top-ranked nighttime radio program.

Obviously, none of the above options are solutions if you’re serious about your career as a creative writer who is trying to break into the literary game.

At the same time, few of us have thousands of dollars to hire someone who can actually get your manuscript in proper shape to move forward in your career. If you do, great. Go for it. But most of us do not have that kind of money.

It’s simple to see. There’s a hole in the market, one that I believe any astute writer can see. I’m confident that I have a solution to this hole in the market.

I’ve created a book review service that audits your manuscript, listing every problem and proposed solutions. There’s no actual editing involved. That’s your job. However, after using this service, you’ll know the exact weaknesses that currently hinder your manuscript and how to address them.

The best part is this service only costs $50 USD per 10,000 words. For most us, that means the service costs under $500.

I absolutely do NOT recommend this service to anyone who isn’t confident in their “chops” as a writer. If you have some great ideas, but you’re not an experienced writer, you’ll probably end up needing to hire a developmental editor or maybe a ghostwriter to take your vision forward and execute these edits.

However, for those writers who are skilled and just need that extra pair of trained eyes, this service is a perfect fit.

Of course, since this service is new, and my blog is small, I need some help to get the word out to help writers. That’s where you come in.

If you know some writers who could benefit from this service, I’ll extend a 20% commission to you for every successful referral. Email me using the contact form below for more details and to get started.

In success,
Alfonso

How To Land High-Paying Writing Jobs

I landed a five-figure screenwriting gig without ever having sold a screenplay before.

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I landed a similarly lucrative nonfiction writing gig without ever having written a non-fiction book before, or anything longer than a short story.

Regardless of what my mom told me growing up, I’m not special. If I can do it, so can you.

Moral Of The Story: Listen To Lauren

My fiancée Lauren and I have a relationship that’s like a sitcom. A problem arises. She proposes a solution. I go my own way in a bullheaded fashion. My own devices fail. I reluctantly try her way and succeed.

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Yes, she is always right. I hope she never reads this admission. Let’s make this our special secret, okay?

Anyway, one day, after years of providing editing services, I wanted to get my feet wet and land a client as a writer, not as an editor. Lauren suggested Upwork.com.

I decided to give it a try. After a few searches, I turned to her in disgust and said something to the effect of “Why the hell would anyone write a 50,000 word book for $100?”

If you’re willing to write a book for $100, and you live in the US, EU, or any other developed country, you’re a fool. Believe me, I told this to Lauren. Over and over again until she got sick of hearing my self-righteous statement. And a couple more times long after she had grown tired of my ranting.

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But, Lauren told me to stick with it. Reluctantly, I did.

And I landed a five-figure screenwriting client.

Without having sold or optioned a screenplay at that point.

Five figures certainly beats $100, right?

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Full Gordon Gekko Mode

Okay, quick interlude. I know some people are probably annoyed at the money talk. To those people, let me quote British author Samuel Johnson, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”

There is NOTHING ugly about getting large sums of money for your writing. If you want to turn writing into a career, you’re going to need those large sums of money. If writing is just a hobby, that’s fine, but if you want to make writing your primary profession, then you’re going to need to be able to get people to pay you for your work.

And pay you more than $100.

How I Landed My First Client

So, how did I land this client? Let me walk you through the steps:

Step 1 – I applied for the gig.

As Woody Allen said, “80 percent of success is showing up.”

Step 2 – After no response, I sent a follow-up message.

No response does not mean no. No response means you need to do more to convince me.

Step 3 – I steered the prospective client to a phone call.

We established rapport, shared values, and a willingness to learn about the topic.

Step 4 – I sent writing samples.

I sent him a previous screenplay I had written.

Step 5 – I kept sending follow-ups after he went cold.

He agreed to work with me and gave me insights into writing his screenplay, but then went cold for ten months. I kept sending him follow-ups, spaced long apart so as not to annoy, but regularly enough to be assertive. I never was judgmental or passed blame. I’m a professional and I acted the part.

Step 6 – I flew out West to meet with him.

There, I got a chance to further develop the rapport, learn more about the project, and iron out the details. It was a success!

And he wasn’t the only client I landed.

With A Little Help From Your Friends…

Ever hear the old saying, it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know?

Yeah, sometimes that’s true.

I landed another great client as a referral from a friend. She knew that I was looking for writing clients. Another friend of hers was looking for a talented writer.

Yes, sometimes it’s really that easy.

A Whole Bunch Of Other Ways To Land High-Paying Writing Clients

Of course, these aren’t the only ways to land high-paying clients on great writing projects. Here are a few other methods you may want to consider:

  1. Craigslist. Yes, there are a lot of flakes there, but there are diamonds in the rough.
  2. Create a website and blog, then hit social media hard. Get yourself out there online. Lots of people do, though. The key is quantity and quality. Provide immense value and provide it as often as you can.
  3. Develop an expertise. Coupling talent as a writer with a subject expertise puts you ahead of nearly all competition when finding ghostwriting gigs.
  4. Target business leaders. Use your professional network to find the alpha dogs of the business world. They’re often far too busy to write books on their own, and pay ghostwriters well.
  5. Make business cards and leave them in well-trafficked areas. Go to affluent neighborhoods and leave business cards behind in coffee shops, libraries, hotel common areas, etc.

Conclusion

Whether through a friend, Upwork.com, Craigslist, a website/blog/social media presence, sharpening up on a skill, targeting your friendly neighborhood CEO, or hitting the rich neighborhoods with a stack of business cards, writers don’t have to be poor (even if it’s fun to joke about).

Now go out and land a high-paying gig and make me proud!

What’s Your Story?

Have you ever landed a high-paying writing gig? How did you do it? Share in the comments below. I’m open to guest posts for compelling and insightful stories about this topic.

You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

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If you found this post entertaining or informative, please do me a solid and like and subscribe. If you’re really looking for a way to get on my good side, why not share this post on social media?

If you have any questions about landing high-paying writing gigs, just leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to shoot a helpful answer your way.

Fighting the good fight with you,
Alfonso

 

How To Promote A Self-Published eBook – Two Simple Ways to Get Major Results

I’m a huge fan of retro video games. Like many Reagan babies, I owned an NES, a Nintendo lunch box, ate Nintendo cereal, watched the Super Mario Bros. Super Show; I could go on, but you get the idea. After the NES faded in popularity, I went on to the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, then the PlayStation and Nintendo 64, before losing interest when I attended college (Parties are more fun. Studying has its purpose too, I suppose).

Now, at 33 years old and with a little bit of disposable income, I’ve started to collect some of the games I missed purchasing in my childhood. There are certain “brands” that I’ll buy pretty much anything from (e.g. Mega Man, Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid; etc.), but what about the games I didn’t get a chance to play or that were unknown to me back then? I’ll buy a few of those too, but only if I see a demonstration on a YouTube channel and hear some reputable voices vouch for it.

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The reason I include this anecdote is because the same methods that work for alerting me to retro video games that I should give a chance are the same ones that alert me and many other readers to self-published writers that are worth a read.

Dispel the notion once and for all that if you write it they will come. They won’t. You have to get noticed or self-publishing is an exercise in futility if your goal is to make money and/or get people to read your writing. I’ve known many talented writers who choose to self-publish. What happens when they release their books? Nothing. It’s every self-published writer’s worst fear.

So, how exactly do you get readers and sales for your eBook? 

  1. Win over an influencer. Some think getting good reviews on Amazon or Smashwords are enough. Not true; they help, but you need to draw traffic first. The best way to do that is to have an Internet influencer promote you on their media. Who exactly qualifies as an influencer? A good ballpark figure is at least 1,000 followers on social media or WordPress, or the face behind a heavily-trafficked website that many people in your niche know about. While press anywhere helps, to get real results you need to get an endorsement from an Internet “star.”
  2. Give some of it away for free. That means giving free copies of your book to influencers. That means putting up chapters for free online. You’re not Dan Brown or Stephen King yet, so you have to earn your readers’ attention and show that you’re talented.

And that’s it. Are there other ways that you can promote your eBook? Of course. That said, if you want results in a big way and quickly, focus on the big win. Anything else is often just a tiresome waste.

Have you had success as a self-published author? Share a comment below to help aspiring authors. 

How To Make Money From Self-Publishing Your Own Writing

Many new authors choose to self-publish their writing. Oftentimes, this comes about for two reasons:

  1. A lack of confidence in their own writing’s ability to be published.
  2. A lack of knowledge of how to get their writing published.

However, some writers prefer to self-publish in order to get rid of the middleman. I understand that sentiment; however, I caution against publishing with a vanity press or through Amazon or Smashwords unless a writer is willing to put the money, time, and extreme effort into making the endeavor worth their while, or alternatively, if they have ties to individuals of influence/a large platform.

The reality is that for most writers who self-publish, no one will read your writing, and you will make virtually no money from your self-published book. Without the reputation and marketing that comes with a publishing house, amidst a sea of self-published material, your work will languish in complete obscurity. It sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.

For this reason, I urge many writers to have their writing edited to a publishable standard and then partner with a skilled published consultant. Without those two things, many talented writers will simply never get their start, unless they are willing to devote countless hours doing the job themselves, which often will still produce futile results.

Even with all the challenges for most individuals, I absolutely advocate self-publishing in two, and only two, specific circumstances:

  1. You have a large platform. You may never have published even a single poem or short story in your life, but if you have achieved a great deal in some other sphere of influence and people recognize your name, then choosing to self-publish your writing isn’t such a bad idea. With a little bit of marketing, you can still have self-publishing reap results, often more than if you choose to publish via the traditional route.
  2. You have “true believers” who have large platforms. Do you have family, friends, coworkers, business partners, spouses, or others in your life who think your writing is stellar? Do they have large networks? Are they willing to spread the word and help you out? If so, you should consider self-publishing.

While writing anything to completion in and of itself is an accomplishment, for many writers that isn’t enough. All writers want their work to be read. Additionally, writing a novel or other long work is a serious time consideration. Time is money, and most anyone would love a return on the investment of their time. While, of course, writing isn’t and shouldn’t be about the money, I firmly believe that artists ought to be paid for their efforts. There’s nothing ugly about that all, and I imagine none but the most misguided or masochistic would disagree.

In short, while self-publishing is normally a questionable idea, if people know who you are or if you have even one powerful contact in your corner, then consider giving it a shot. 

In success,
Alfonso

 

 

8 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Aren’t Getting Your Writing Published

In baseball, some of the best players in the game only get a hit roughly one out of every three times they are at the plate. The same can be said about writers and publishing.

Ty Cobb, one of the legends of the game, had a .366 batting average, the highest of all-time in Major League Baseball history. On average, 634 out of every 1000 times that he was at the plate, he would fail to get a hit.

Writers looking to publish can learn a lot from batting averages. A position player in the major leagues will generally hit between .200 and .360 during a full season. A writer successfully targeting journals relevant to their style, tone, and themes will have a success rate roughly equivalent to the average baseball player. If you get in a particularly hot streak, you may get a few acceptances in a row without a rejection. You may also get into a slump. In time, everything will average out.

If you are submitting your poetry or short fiction to competitive journals, contacting agents, or submitting your manuscript to publishers, and you are getting rejected consistently without any acceptances, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Have I had my writing edited? Does it read well, or is it choppy? Are there major problems?

2. Am I targeting the right literary journals, publishers, and agents? Would they actually be interested in my type of writing, or is this completely off the mark?

3. Do I need to build my platform? From where I am right now as a writer and a person, can I do anything to attract some attention to myself?

4. Do I know where to find agents, publishers, or literary journals? Duotrope.com, PW.org, and the Writer’s Market 2016 are all great places to start.

5. Have I been writing consistently enough to develop my skills to the point where my work is of a publishable standard? Do you treat writing as a part-time hobby, or are you serious about it? Your writing will improve the more you actually write.

6. Did I ever learn the fundamentals of writing, or have I gone into creative writing with a lot of passion, but little education in the workings of craft? If you never learned how to write well, you won’t.

7. How is my mindset? Am I visualizing success or am I anticipating another rejection letter? Your thoughts become reality. Create a reality where you expect to publish your writing.

8. Have I been reading other writers who write like I do? Absorbing ideas and style from other writers is critical, and writers who don’t read are writers who don’t get published.

If your writing is almost never accepted, or is never accepted, with around 95% certainty, I can say that you are probably doing at least one of these things wrong, and most likely many of them.

Now, once you correct your mistakes, you will not get accepted to every literary journal you submit your poems or short fiction to, or every independent publisher that you submit your manuscript to, or every agent that you contact. Far from it. But, you will get some successes.

I hope that this post motivated you to move forward.

I know that if you work hard and make the appropriate tweaks, you will become a successful writer.

In success,
Alfonso

Writerpreneur: Why You Need to Get Over Your Innate Disgust Regarding the Ugliness of Self-Promotion

A – Always

B – Be

C – Closing

No, it doesn’t just apply to sales. It applies to writers too. You’ve written widely, now start getting your name out there. It’s time to close.

I write about many relevant aspects of breaking out of the “aspiring writer” tag. This post deals with perhaps the hardest part for many aspiring writers⁠—self-promotion.

Point blank – You need to sell yourself and you need to sell your writing.

Your writing could be stellar. However, if you think it sounds tacky to promote yourself, there is NO WAY you will rise from obscurity to literary renown, there is NO WAY you will have people beyond your friends and family read your writing, and there is NO WAY you will earn a cent from your writing.

So get over your fear of self-promotion!

Is it tacky to promote your writing? The answer is irrelevant, as you have an IMMENSE amount of competition in the field. There are SO MANY writers trying to get some attention and guess what, many of them are incredible. How do you break in? Well, of course you need to write well, and an editor can help sharpen your work and a publishing consultant can steer you to the right places to publish your writing, but even after your writing is published, unless it’s at a Big 5 or a top literary journal, you still have tons of work remaining. That work is self-promotion, and you MUST do it if you want to build a literary career.

So, how do you self-promote? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Provide something of value to other writers or to readers beyond your own writing – The amount of published writing on the Web and in print is hard to fathom. Unless you’re publishing with a Big 5 or in a top journal, even if you publish widely in the small presses, only a handful of insiders will know who you are. To extend your platform, consider giving back to writers (or readers) in another way.

2. Have your own webpage – Writers should absolutely have their own webpage. This should be your command center for any writing-related projects you have completed. Utilize keyword research to steer traffic your way. If possible, hire an SEO expert to help with the marketing of your website.

3. Network with other writers – The joke is that writers hate other writers. I don’t find that necessarily true, but even so, get over it and start buddying up to other writers and people in the publishing industry. Talent is talent, but talent can far more easily get recognized when it puts itself out there.

4. Consider obtaining a BFA or MFA – A formal educational program will put you in touch with accomplished writers as professors. If you’re good, they can help mold you to be better and open doors for you.

5. Tell everyone you know – This is the part that raises writer’s eyebrows. Yes, not everyone may want to hear about your latest manuscript, but if you took that much time to write it why not share the information with your circles? Not everyone may be able to help you get your writing out there, but some people just might be able to. The thing is, they won’t do it if you don’t tell them about what you wrote.

I hope you find these suggestions useful. If you found this post helpful, could you please share it on your feed? Thanks!

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

Boost Your Platform and Reap the Rewards

Every aspiring writer (and truthfully, every emerging writer too) needs to be heavily involved in a writing-related project. It doesn’t matter whether it is a project that you create or whether you latch on to an already established project; either way, you must do more than just write in order to be taken seriously in the literary game.

The sad truth is that there are (and always will be) many talented writers who will never get their work out to the literary-inclined public. They may publish on Smashwords and generate a readership consisting of little more than family and friends. They are great writers, yet they won’t have their books discussed (dissected?) by critics. They are talented voices, yet they won’t have their books on display at The Strand. No one will read their work, regardless of what they create, because they never amassed a platform.

You already know that you need to submit your writing to literary journals and small publishers, and to connect with agents. However, if you keep getting rebuffed, even though you’re doing everything right, you need to consider your platform, or more specifically your lack of a platform.

I think Lena Dunham is a genius. Lena Dunham received a $3.7 million advance for her new book. Why did she receive that much money? Of course, she is quite a talented writer (and actress), but the reason that she received $3.7 million for the rights to her manuscript, while many other writers would be lucky to receive $4,000, let alone publish at all, is because of her platform. She created a television show (Girls) that depicts the life of modern cosmopolitan twentysomethings in a way that has never been done before, and because of that she reaped a considerable reward from Random House.

If you are struggling as a writer, you need to analyze your platform. Who are you? What have you accomplished? Is your name is known at least within a certain niche group? If not, you need to get cracking. Create your own blog, start a literary group, become a reader for a literary magazine—just do something to get known in the sphere of writing (unless you can do something quite a bit bigger in some other sphere.)

It all comes down to platform. If you have a modicum of talent, you can write something that can get published. However, without the platform, it makes it quite a bit harder. All you have to do is get known, then all the rest will take care of itself.

Do you have any good tips for writers looking to enhance their platform? Please feel free to share them by commenting on this post.

Promoting Your Creative Writing

Before I launch into this post, I hope that you’ll read my poem “Smyrna, 1993” published today in Eunoia Review, an excellent online literary journal.

There’s a tendency for many writers to often downplay their own achievements. Out of modesty, they may not want to promote their writing as often as they should, or even at all. Doing so is seen as commercial and crass.

I don’t believe that this attitude is a healthy one. Writing is about sharing your vision with the world. You can’t do that if you’re an unknown. It’s so much easier to get yourself moving in the right direction if you start letting people know who you are and what you’ve done. 

But how can you do so? Here are four ways to consider:

1. Social Media – Whenever good things happen, whether it be having a piece published in a literary journal, putting out an eBook, getting booked for a reading, completing the first draft of your novel, or planning to visit an open mic to perform poetry, let your friends and followers on social media know about it. 

2. Get Connected to Local Writers – Regardless of if you live in a metropolitan area or a small town, there will be other writers around. Find them. Join their groups. Go to their events. Strike up friendships with them. Being an insider will help integrate you in the literary game.

3. Online Writing Spaces – Read the blogs of other writers. Join writing-related message boards and websites. Help other writers whenever possible. If you put forth a good effort, you’ll soon establish some excellent contacts who would be happy to assist you in promoting your own writing.

4. Help Publishers – Volunteer in some capacity for a literary magazine or small press that publishes work that you enjoy. If you have relevant experience, consider applying for positions at a major publisher.

How do you promote your own writing? Did I miss anything that may be helpful to an aspiring writer? Please feel free to share your thoughts.