The Newbie Writers’ Podcast
Guest: Brenda Knight
Brenda has opened an “author-centered marketing consultancy.” Among her first clients are members of the band Blink 182.
Many times a publisher is acquired by a larger company because they are unique and distinctive in the field. Cleis Press worked hard for 34 years to become “best in class” and the leader in their genres, even being named “Publisher of the Year 2014” during my tenure. This made “the little publisher that could” attractive to a bigger company. What made Cleis different was what made Cleis great and that legacy carries on.
An author needs to be concerned when they hear that book categories and imprints are being discontinued, rights are being returned and book contracts being broken. This doesn’t happen all that often but keep a sharp eye out for press releases about the sale and read between the lines. I advise authors to band together and approach the new owners/new regime and develop a relationship. Ask the tough questions. Find out who your new contact is and stay in good contact. Publishing is in constant flux so the players do change.
My biggest piece of advice is to read the fine print in your contract. If, for example, the new owners start missing contractual deadlines, that is a big red flag. Don’t be a “squeaky wheel,” pay attention and make sure each side, yourself included, remains “In compliance,” with your book contract. If more than one deadline is missed and you are not hearing proactively from your new contacts, you may want to check with the Author’s Guild to see what your wisest next move is. You can only take your books away if the terms of the original contract have been violated. Make sure you do not have a Right of First Refusal” meaning the publisher with whom you have the contract gets to see your next project and has to say NO before you can shop it anywhere else. Agents come in very handy with change of ownership as they are your champion throughout. Publishers come and go but a top notch agent stays the course with you and will fine your book a good home.
I have seen scenarios wherein authors were thrilled with new ownership which may well involves bigger marketing budgets and advances, so you never know!
Get to know other people who are writing in your genre. Find a writing group with other published authors in the same genre. Other similar authors will support one another and talk about each other’s work. If you can form a group of other people writing in your genre, they can really be helpful to you. Remarkable examples of this are San Francisco’s The Grotto, The Rumpus, LA’s Nervous Breakdown, and many more. Find an author mentor! You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Learn from what others are doing. Pitch to your community before pitching to editors. Become friends with at least one local bookseller and they can also be excellent guides. An inspiring example is that of Bay Area writer Khaled Hosseini who attended the weekly San Francisco Writers Group meetings in downtown SF, a free meetup. Each week, he read a new ten pages of his work-in-progress receiving much input in the “crits” from other writers in the group. The result was a #1 New York Times bestseller, The Kite Runner. He credits this group as the key to his success.
Author-centered marketing is recognizing the simple fact that the author is always going to be the best champion for their own book and leveraging that. When I was a young publishing sprout at my first job, I often saw co-workers talk smack about authors. I was shocked and spoke out about it. My view is that’s just plain wrong. Despite being a newbie, I developed a philosophy, “Without our authors, we are nothing.” I have stuck with that motto and it has never failed me.
I always get tremendously inspired by writers, who are putting their passion on the page. I am in talks with like-minded experts about a related start-up. After all, this is the San Francisco Bay Area; you have to do a start-up at some point, right?
My 2016 projects now are very varied. My first book was “Women of the Beat Generation” which went on to win the American Book Award. Thanks to that book, I set on a path of studying every aspect of Beat writing and history and have been invited to teach and contribute to a textbook, a definitive guide to Beat scholarship. I am enjoying it greatly and we shall see how far this return to academia goes. I love coaching new writers, authors, self-publishers and indie publishers toward greater success and have been teaching at writer’s conferences in the last year. I always get tremendously inspired by writers, who are putting their passion on the page. I am in talks with like-minded experts about a related start-up. After all, this is the San Francisco Bay Area; you have to do a start-up at some point, right?
Author-centered marketing is recognizing the simple fact that the author is always going to be the best champion for their own book and leveraging that. When I was a young publishing sprout at my first job, I often saw co-workers talk smack about authors. I was shocked and spoke out about it. My view is that’s just plain wrong. Despite being a newbie, I developed a philosophy, “Without our authors, we are nothing.” I have stuck with that motto and it has never failed me. As a publisher, as soon as the ink dries on the book contract, I would send out a robust author questionnaire that gleaned marketing intel and became the first part of the marketing plan for the book. I would also send out my “Author’s Guide to Social Media” so the authors can start expanding or building their platform. A year before publication, we would go over the marketing plan and commit to events, appearances, radio, blogging and much more. it is a partnership and when we work together, beautiful things can happen. Nothing give me more joy than to see an author’s glee at skyrocketing rankings and sales. Authorcentric marketing is smart marketing.
Let’s say you got rid of all the monsters under the bed. What else is under there? What does your hero or heroine keep under their bed? What have they forgotten?
He concluded that because of the points made by Paul Broca, the society were lead by men and the scientific work and the measurements done in women and men’s brain and saying that women like it or not, they have smaller brains than men, as a result women did not has the equal intelligence as men.
How are yous guys doing? (overheard in the airport bar)
Word of the Week:
These words of the week come from The Meaning of Liff and The Deeper Meaning of Liff, both by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd. All of the words are actually place names, taken mostly from locations in the UK, but also from the rest of the planet. These place names are matched with meanings that don’t yet have words of their own, usually with very humorous results.
Ghent (adj.): Descriptive of the mood indicated by cartoonists by drawing a character’s mouth as a wavy line.
Gignog (n.): Someone who, through the injudicious application of alcohol, is now a great deal less funny than he thinks he is.