Monday, November 10, 2014

Simple Marketing Ideas

I think authors get hung up on their marketing because they don't devote as much time to learn about the industry and their genre as they do on the craft of writing. For some reason, marketing is relegated to the back burner in such a way that when the book is done, there's a "sitting idle" time.

When I speak at conferences, I often remind authors that when they transition from being writers to authors, they transition from artists to business people. A writer, writes. An author sells her writing and a successful author does both well.

The book is paramount to the success, so make sure it's edited, polished, set aside for a week, then edited again after several beta readers, and critique partners have made it bleed. But once the book is in submission, your marketing platform needs to be strong in order to help your agent, editor sell the book to the publishers they are courting with your manuscript.

The old adage, "It's not what you know but who you know" applies greatly to publishing when authors are looking to market their books (regardless of the publishing route explored). When you're not writing, you need to be cultivating relationships with readers, reviewers, book industry people online and in person. This is where conferences and blog tours come in handy.

Research blog tour companies and talk with published authors in your genre who have recently used a blog tour company to get an idea of their experience and learn what works and what doesn't. If you're represented, reach out to your agent's other clients who write in your genre and introduce yourself. Pick up their books and familiarize yourself with their writing style. Is it similar to yours? Do you think their readers could be part of your target audience? If so, reach out and ask for information. Most authors like to talk about their experiences in the publishing industry (some a little more than others) and many like to help new authors or mentor them in some way. But be authentic in your desire for mentorship and/or help. If they are unwilling or unable to offer more than a recommendation for a blog tour company, for example, say thank you and engage with them via social media about anything BUT your book.

Expect review sites to take MONTHS to get to your book, so make sure to send out ARCs early and to a large number of sites. Cast a wide net. Join Goodreads groups that allow you to connect with readers. Talk to your publisher about reducing the price of your first book so the second gets a chance to pick up new readers. KNOW your genre and the heavy hitters in the genre and get to know what works for them and doesn't. When you're not writing, you need to be promoting. Set time aside each day to do something to promote yourself. Readers want more of you, they buy your books to get that so give them YOU!

Then start thinking outside the box for your marketing. Look for opportunities to talk about your book on social media without panhandling it. Talk about your writing process, your cat, your cat's inevitable desire to thwart your writing process at every turn. Anything that's not just blasting social media with your book every five seconds.

Then sign up to speak at conferences and partner up with other authors in your genre to help expand your reach. Be active in promoting yourself as an expert in your craft because you are! You have expertly written a book, sold it to a publisher and expected to sell it to thousands of readers. What works and doesn't work become part of your expertise. Talk about that at conferences and take these opportunities to also engage your readers one-on-one. Sign up for books signings at conventions. Schedule speaking engagements at our local writing group meetings. Get out there and make your name known!

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Assistant: Caitlin Spivey

Did not ever think that I would get such a huge response to my Help Wanted post but you guys surprised me, yet again!
Among the amazing resumes I received within the first 24 hours of that post was one from Caitlin Spivey whose cover letter was witty and personal. Her resume was even better!

While reading her resume and putting together a list of the candidates I wanted to speak with, I realized I approached the hiring of this intern the same way I approach my potential clients. It's not just about the query or the book. There needs to be a connection between us if a working relationships is going to work.
We share similar outside interests which is crucial to working with me as I tend to geek out over various things while working (multi-tasking brain) and it helps to have someone who can decipher my movie quotes and random Doctor Who and Harry Potter references for every day things without batting an eye.

But her editorial experience is what really won me over. I knew I need someone who could help me tame the inordinately large pile of manuscripts I need to review for clients and potential clients with a critical eye toward marketability as well as content. That's not always easy to find but it looks like, in Cait, I have.
So, please welcome Caitlin Spivey to the Corvisiero Literary Agency and keep an eye out for new opportunities within the agency.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Help Wanted: Interns

As many of you know I'm constantly working and my to-do list grows exponentially on a daily basis. So far, I've been able to manage the bulk of the work with little assistance but I've finally reached that point where I'm clawing at the walls in my attempt to get away from the piles of work that have grown like weeds!

My colleague, Sarah Negovetich posted about her needs for an intern on her blog and it made me realize, I need to put my own Help Wanted sign as well.

So I'm totally copying and pasting from Sarah's Help Wanted post because it's exactly what I'm looking for as well:

Here's what it looks like:
The internship is unpaid for six months, and I cannot make any promises in regard to advancement within the agency. However, if the intern is a student, I am happy to file the appropriate paperwork needed for course credit if your college allows for it. I will also gladly write letters of recommendation (where it's appropriate) for interns looking to get into other areas of publishing. While the intern will be under my direction, they may work on tasks with other agents.

I am mostly looking for someone who can assist me with queries, manuscript evaluation and working on the back end of marketing projects with my clients. But publishing is unpredictable, so I'm sure there will be other fun projects to work on as well. An ideal intern will have experience beta reading and/or editing, though formal training is not needed, and a high level of organization. A borderline obsession with spreadsheets would be helpful.

If this is you, or someone you know, please send a resume (as a word attachment) to Saritza(at)CorvisieroAgency(dot)com and use "Intern" in the subject line. I don't have a deadline for this, but I'd like to get someone in place by the end of the month, so don't dally. I would really appreciate it if you guys could help spread the word for me.

I will also add that the perfect candidate will be comfortable reading erotic romance, erotica and GLBT works. Ideally, they are a fan of the work I represent and like to read all kinds of romance.

ETA: This is a remote position.

Monday, September 29, 2014


It's just a little prick
You know it’s coming. You know the diagnosis before you hear the words and you know it’s not going to be easy to hear but you know. How could you not? You’ve seen the signs for years now, you just didn’t want to have those fears acknowledged.

You knew it the moment you finally went in for your physical (at the end of the calendar year, as if postponing it to the latter part of the year would make the diagnosis easier to hear). You knew it the moment the blood tests were ordered and you knew it as you watched your sugary blood fill the vials.

Sure, it’s easy to say to yourself that it’s not going to be difficult and it’s probably going to be easier to finally shed some of the weight you’ve added on since starting one of the many “lifestyle” food changes you’ve started and stopped in the past 2 years. You’ve watched countless of celebrities, friends and family members shed the weight after their diagnoses so this is a good thing, right?

You know the answer to the rhetorical question even as you ask it. You know that it matters little how much you “hope” and “wish” and “try” to stop eating the foods that will inevitable cause your demise but you ask it anyway. You ask it because you cling to the hope that one day you’ll actually find the trick that will show on the scale, the clothes you wear, the mirror.

You know that your fight with food is not just of your own doing. It has been a battle since your first pregnancy where you craved hot fudge sundaes and sweet tea. Since you were in college and binged on late-night drive-thru tacos and burgers. Since high school where salads weighed 3 lbs and were laden with everything on the salad bar drenched in thousand island dressing. Since junior high school where greasy pizzas were the lunchroom norm with a large Dr. Pepper and homemade peanut butter bars.

Your fight with food has been a long one. Perhaps not as arduous as others’ but nonetheless tiring. You’ve watched yourself slow down. Sit longer. Eat more. Sleep more. Battle with depression, anger and self-loathing more. You’ve battled it without expectation of success because really, who has truly succeeded at winning a battle against sugar? Yes, there are the success stories and many are friends or friends of friends or those people who friend you on Facebook because they knew you in high school and they’ve succeeded. They’ve lost a kajillion pounds and they’re healthy and running marathons and winning at life while you’re sitting at your desk miserably avoiding the mocha creamer because it has 9g of Carbs and you hate yourself for knowing that so well.

Image courtesy: Lynn County Hospital District
You’re not surprised at the outpouring of support from family and friends who say things like, “You can do it” and “We’re in it with you” when you know that while well-meaning, it’s not any more helpful than the doctor telling you, “you’re a diabetic but I know you can win this fight.” You know they mean well and truly care for your well-being. You know they want the best for you but you don’t see that right now. You see the pantry full of Chef Boyardee cans, pasta and cake boxes, potato chips, soda, chocolate candies and the nutella spread you would gladly eat straight out of the jar in giant soup-spoon portions because it’s chocolate and peanut butter and you have no self-control. You see the sweet brisk tea cans in the fridge next to the water you’re supposed to drink.

Then you remember the way your sister looked after a sugar spike. How scared her children were despite knowing that mom’s sugar spikes from time to time and she’s battled worse but the fight with sugar is harder than the fight with the cancerous cells in her body. You realize that if you have to drink more water, stop eating the white stuff: bread, potatoes, rice and check your blood sugar at dinner with a Metformin chaser, you’re going to avoid scaring your children as well. You may even fit into the clothes you refuse to buy yourself now because really, what’s the point of having clothes that shrink every month.

You start to think about what the physical changes in your body will mean to your love life. What they’ll mean to your marriage. What a healthier body will mean to your children who fight their own sugar battles a lot younger than you. You realize that being a diabetic could affect change in their bodies by eating healthy along with you.

It’s a fight and it’s one you have to face alone despite the support from friends and family because in the end, it’s you, your mouth and that chocolate cake in the fridge you have the face.

You hate that you’re now “that” person who has to decline sweets at a birthday party while acknowledging that you don’t really like cake all that much. You accept that you have to do the things you ask your spouse to do because if you don’t do them, the one that gets hurt is you. You gird your flabby loins in preparation for this sugar battle and you don’t hope you’ll succeed. You go in glucose guns blazing and shoot down all of those poor choices knowing you’ll likely take some hits in the process. Eventually, you’ll get smaller and make for a smaller target.

You do what you have to to survive and if that means pricking your finger once a day, eating less and getting your ass out of your office chair, then you do it. Not because failure’s not an option. Not because you’re going to fight to live another day. You do it because no one can do this for you and if you don’t, next year’s diagnoses will include high blood pressure, enlarged heart, arteriosclerosis or worse.

You’re a diabetic. Suck it up, suck it in and fight!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

11 Things I’ve learned about being an agent in 2014

So, I was looking through my old blog posts for ideas to repurpose or update on my blog for this month and found my 10 Things I’ve learned about being the ePub Agent in 2012. It’s interesting but those 10 things are still important now and I will likely include them when I train our junior staff but I’m learning new things every year and I fall in love with my profession more with each new tidbit I learn.

If I were to write a letter to my 2014 ePub Agent self here’s what I would add (with gifs of course because it's 2014 and gifs just make everything better):

  1. Your instincts are sharper with time and experience. You trust your gut now more than you did in 2012 especially when it comes to market trends and the commerciality of projects.
  2. Authors will continue to need support and uplifting pep talks but understand that insecurities may paralyze some of them. It’s more important to help them out of that fear than it is to get another book from them. The book will eventually come about but not without the author feeling safe in their creative space.
  3. The author’s SOs will thank you for mastering #2.
  4. Contract negotiations continue to be your favorite thing to do because it’s protecting your author’s livelihood as well as your own.
  5. Respect the business but remember that it IS a business and if you’re not working it, you’re not earning money.
  6. Marketing will consume much of your time regardless of author’s platform or distribution because your first marketing step is the pitch and it can’t be weak!
  7. You don’t have time to do everything and it’s ok to delegate work to underlings who you train to one day be as good or better than you. They are your legacy after all.
  8. Don’t walk into a room with a bat unless you’re prepared to deal with the swing. Don’t let your authors walk into a room with a bat either. There’s no bashing in publishing.
  9. Cry in private and smile in public. No one likes a whiner.
  10. Digital unit sales are important but a mass market print run should be the goal for all of your clients so keep track of those units sold and don’t just take the author’s word for it. Read the royalty statements and ask for those units to be included or ask the publisher to provide those.
  11. It’s not an “us vs them” mentality around here. You’re the advocate for the author but you’re not against publishers (small, indie, traditional, digital or otherwise).