Posts Tagged ‘my writer’s journey’

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Meet Teresa LeYung-Ryan, Book Marketing Coach!

1. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background in the industry?
My name is Teresa LeYung-Ryan and my clients call me Writing-and-Platform-Building Coach Teresa. I wish to thank Christy Pinheiro-Silva of www.StepByStepSelfPublishing.net for this interview, and, I encourage everyone to look for the core messages in my responses—which are:  Reach out, not stress out, to material your dreams;  and, wear your two hats as a writer and be happy (whether you’re writing fiction, narrative nonfiction, or prescription nonfiction also known as “how to” books/articles).

This is what happened to me, over ten years ago, and the choices I’ve made.

I had a dream—a dream of connecting with readers the way Maxine Hong Kingston touched me with her memoir The Woman Warrior.  My writer’s journey started with learning the components of a story in a ten-week course Writing Children’s Literature at the community center and forming a critique group with three classmates after the course ended.

Fast forward.  After seven years of writing and rewriting, showing up at critique meetings twice a month,  I received a gift from a friend—a brochure for the Jack London Writers’ Conference with an entry form for their writing contest.   Two months later, at the conference, I met members from California Writers’ Club and I received “Second Prize” in the Novel Category in the writing contest. I thought that by being a winner in a contest, surely I would attract mentors and be “discovered” by an agent the following week.  (Are you laughing?)

Fast forward.  After sending query letters and the first two chapters of my novel to dozens of agents over a year, and, receiving “rejection letters” and getting very depressed, I took a friend’s advice and registered for a workshop “How to Get Published.” Also, I got together with two other contest-winners (Luisa Adams and Martha Alderson) and we pledged to help each other on our writers’ journeys.

I took a six-week leave of absence from my job to perform the last big rewrite of my manuscript.  (Note: Surround yourself with people who really support your dreams. My husband and my friends were cheering for me.)

Fast forward.  My first novel Love Made of Heart (a mother-daughter love story) is used in college composition classes; available at public libraries; recommended by the CA School Library Association and the CA Reading Association; and archived at the San Francisco History Center.   October 2012 marks the tenth anniversary of Love Made of Heart.  The book is still in print, and, I continue to meet new fans.

For the past nine years, through my coaching  and my workbook Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days, I have been helping writers reach out, not stress out, to attract agents, editors, publishers, readers, and media attention.

2. What is your opinion on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing and represented by an agent?

The advantage of identifying the right agent who will pitch your intellectual property to the right publishers— agents have their specialties and their relationships with acquisition editors at publishing houses; established publishers have relationships with book distributors.

Note: An agent gets 15% of what the author receives from the publisher (similar to a finder’s fee). Agents are not publicists, marketing managers or promoters.  The publisher, not the agent, offers you the contract (to buy the rights to publish your book).

Note: Hire a literary attorney to interpret and negotiate the contract for you if your agent doesn’t have access to legal counsel. Know what rights you are selling to the publisher.

*
The advantage of being your own publisher—you have full control regarding:

  • rights to publish and re-print
  • how to promote your book, when, and to whom
  • publication date and publication format
  • book layout, cover design, jacket copy
  • cover price; discounts to booksellers
  • budget and profits

Consider Your and Other People’s Timetables:
It might take years to find your agent; it might take years before your agent finds the publisher.  By the way, my super-agent Stacey Glick tells me that only 2% of her clients would receive contracts from publishers.  When Stacey negotiated the deal with acquisition editor John Scognamiglio at Kensington Publishing Corp. New York (a publisher who releases 500+ new titles each year) for my  mother-daughter novel Love Made of Heart, my book title got onto the “conveyor belt” (it would take 18 months from when I sign the contract to when the book would show up in bookstores).

Note: A publisher could “fast track” a new title,  releasing the book within months or even weeks.  An example of releasing a book within weeks would be when a super-famous person dies and big publishers would forego some of the stops in the conveyor belt process.

How much attention are you going to get and give?
The bigger the publisher, the more new titles they release each year, the less attention each author gets.  Their best-selling authors, celebrity-authors, and new authors to whom they have given huge advances would get the most attention of course.

A decade ago when John Scognamiglio told me “You have six weeks to get on the radar”  I thought I knew what that meant.  You see, I was one of the lucky authors.  Kensington had bought “front of the store” shelf space at chain-stores for Love Made of Heart.  Chain-stores would rotate inventory every six weeks.  If a book sells during those six weeks, then the store would order more copies through their distributor.  Independent sales representatives (especially Nancy Suib and Anne Shulenberger) introduced Love Made of Heart to their accounts (independent booksellers).  “Indies” also had to rotate their inventory every few weeks.  What does this mean?  Unsold books are returned to the distributors (warehouses).  Publishers have to pay taxes on inventory—it is a costly business—selling printed books.

To stay on that “radar” meant making one’s name and the subject matter/issues/themes in one’s book visible in media attention over those precious six weeks. Which also meant having lined up interviews—in print, radio, television.  You’re probably saying . . . Wouldn’t the publisher handle all that?  Yes, if you are one of their best-selling authors, a celebrity, or a new author who has been given a huge advance.

Note:  Cyberspace magic provides opportunities galore for authors to broadcast ourselves (build our platforms and fanbases). What is a platform?  The definition is on page 1 from my workbook  Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days“Making your name stand for something—to attract targeted consumers—who are likely to buy what you have to sell.”

3. What do you feel is the most important thing that authors can do to promote their books?
The simple yet powerful tool is:  Making your name synonymous with the  themes/subject matter/issues in your literary works.

In my interview on CBS Channel 5, I talked about:  “What I care about … leads to my writing about those themes/subject matters/issues.  What I write about …   attracts my fans because they also care about what I care about.  Help your fans find you.”

Introduce yourself with your full name.  Then use these three words:  “I care about . . . ”

Example: (as a writer of fiction, narrative nonfiction, including memoirs )
I am Teresa LeYung-Ryan, author of Love Made of Heart (a mother-daughter love story).   I care about helping adult-children (of mentally-ill parents) speak openly about the stigmas and find resources for their loved ones.
Example: (as a writer of prescriptive nonfiction  a.k.a. “how to” )
I am Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan, author of Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days: Attract Agents, Editors, Publishers, Readers, and Media Attention NOW.   I care about helping writers thrive in today’s publishing arena.

I call these self-introductions my platform-statement.
Where to “show” your platform-statement? 

  • Your email signature-block! 
  • Your letterhead! 
  • Your website and blog slogan/tagline/description! 
  • Your bio! 
  • Your business cards! 
  • The caption for your photographs! 
  • Headline for press releases!
  • Social media pages! 
  • And, let’s hear it on your voicemail!

Even when I’m emailing my loved ones (my biggest fans), I show them my platform-statement in my signature block.  Help your fans brag about you with ease.

4. What are your feelings on Social Media? (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc)
I thank creators and users of social media.  How else could our fans from faraway places find us?  Be consistent.  Update your bio in all these forums to reflect your current platform-statement. A picture speaks a thousand words; be sure to rename photo-files (show your full name and book title, and even keywords from your platform-statement)

5. Do you feel that book marketing for fiction is different than book marketing for non-fiction?

No difference in today’s markets.
How do I choose books as a consumer?
As Teresa-the-consumer, I pay attention when:

  • friends recommend a book
  • I read about or hear or meet the author and I appreciate what the author has to say
  • I need information on a particular subject, so  I use a search engine (like Google.com) to find those books or I ask my favorite booksellers and librarians.

How would I help these consumers find me if I am an author?
Please see the answers to Question # 3—“What do you feel is the most important thing that authors can do to promote their books?”

6. What are some of the biggest mistakes that authors make when trying to promote their books?

  • One big mistake is misdirecting your energy pitching to book reviewers or radio or television producers who are not interested in the subject matter /issues/ themes that you are promoting.  Do your homework; seek advice from mentors, colleagues, and yours truly Coach Teresa; use The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages; listen and watch shows you’d like to be invited to, and, please study their format
  • Another common mistake is what my colleague Elisa Sasa Southard calls “killing a marketing moment.”   Her book Break Through the Noise shows you the 9 tools to propel your marketing message.
  • The third common mistake is tiring yourself out when promoting at events where there is traveling, schlepping, and setting up involved. I have lots of fun with colleagues/co-presenters at writers’ conferences, book festivals, and community events. Recently I shared a booth with Margie Yee Webb and Rita Lakin at the Sonoma County Book Festival.  Every year I join forces with co-presenters Sasa Southard and Mary E. Knippel at the San Francisco Writers Conference.  On December 15, 2012 I’ll be sharing a table with Margie Yee Webb (she’s the author of the gift-book Cat Mulan’s Mindful Musings) at a Local Authors event.  Please check my events page.

7. Do you have any other useful advice for beginning authors?

  • Get yourself a calendar (month at a glance) with big squares to write in, and, schedule time to work on your craft and your platform.
  • Get to know members in writers’ organizations (my favorite ones are California Writers Club and Women’s National Book Association)
  • Please read my blog post:  Wear Two Hats as a Writer and Be Happy


8. How can authors contact you if they have any questions?

I encourage you to ask me question by posting a comment on any of my blog posts. That way, my fans will see your name and questions (so, promote yourself).  To submit a comment: click on the headline/blue title bar of the post, scroll down to the end of the post, fill in the boxes, and press the [submit comment] button.

Here’s a blog post you might like to submit a comment/question:  Who Really Is the Most Qualified Person to Build the Author’s Platform and Fanbase?

My email address:   WritingCoachTeresag   at    gmail.com

You will find links to the organizations referenced in this interview on my “Writers’ Resources” page at  http://writingcoachteresa.com

In closing, I wish to reiterate my thanks to Christy Pinheiro and to say “I cheer for all writers!”

Reach out, not stress out!
Sincerely,

Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan

http://writingcoachTeresa.com

Christy Pinheiro-Silva of www.StepByStepSelfPublishing.net  says:

“Thanks, Teresa, for a great interview!!!”

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