- Article: “What Would Keanu Do? How unplugging from the Matrix is surprisingly similar to publishing a novel” by Rhonda Bellza
- An Author’s Guide to Amazon: 7 Tools You Should be Using, by Jennifer Tucker
- Ben Cameron, Director of Sales and Marketing for UK and Europe, to Speak at Self-Publishing Conference in UK This March
- Display Your Book at the 2013 London Book Fair, Deadline March 11th
What Would Keanu Do?
How unplugging from the Matrix is surprisingly similar to publishing a novel
By Rhonda Bellza, Associate Editor, Paper Lantern Lit
The Matrix came out in 1999 and addressed all the uncertainties of standing at the cusp of a new millennium. Its message demanded self-actualization, urgently, and rallied for all of us to rip away the façade. Though we may not all be saviors of a dystopic sci-fi world, Neo’s story—his struggle to rebuild reality— mirrors the creative journey of a writer. Aren’t you also trying to navigate this seemingly infinite and unknowable system that is publishing? Don’t you need to cast away your doubt and believe, on some gut level, that your work might change the world?
Wherever you are in the process of writing your novel—whether it’s brainstorming, procrastinating, or typing that last sentence—congratulations! It’s an unprecedented work of genius (at least that’s what your mom says), and you want to publish it. Pursuing this will be one of the bravest things you’ve ever done. This is similar to trading binary options through binary brokers as explained here binaryreviewer.com.
There are many paths to publication; the landscape has changed dramatically in the past few years and there are plenty of promising opportunities in the e-book self-publishing sphere, but for the purposes of this article I’ll discuss a more traditional publishing route.
My first piece of advice is universal: ask yourself, what would Keanu do?
FOLLOW THE WHITE RABBIT.
There’s a surreal moment in The Matrix when Neo, tirelessly scouring the internet for answers, is mysteriously contacted via computer chat and instructed to “follow the white rabbit”—which presents itself in tattoo form on a beautiful woman. Off he goes to follow her and the rabbit, and so begins his story. Now, I advise against following the instructions of an anonymous chatter, but being online creates opportunities, so no luddites allowed. Online presence is pretty much a non negotiable these days, and you should ideally build your network while you’re writing your book. Forge relationships and tweet/blog/tumble regularly, reflecting the part of your personality that you’d like your reading public to know about—the best-edited version of you.
WHY: The general public should have some sort of consistent access to your writing and life. When you publish articles, query agents, or discuss your projects at parties, your online presence will be the anchor people grab onto in your wake. Have the faith people will connect with your writing and share your links.
HOW: Be genuine in your posts, and start an online dialogue about the things you’re curious about or frustrated with (i.e. Why aren’t there more women published in lit journals? Which writers’ conferences do people recommend? What is the matrix?). Follow blogs of reviewers and writers you admire, and integrate yourself into different communities by posting comments and linking to their articles and posts. Tweet at other writers, not just into the oblivion. Ask to trade guest posts on each other’s blogs. Ask more popular writers if you can interview them or send them a Q&A for your blog. One of the greatest moves in the twittersphere is the retweet—it’s just like the three R’s of recycling: repost, retweet, repeat. You’ll be surprised to find these tactics can lead to real, lasting relationships. And when you do publish your book, these folks will be your biggest supporters and deepest sympathizers.
KNOW KUNG FU.
Neo wakes up from 10 hours of downloading fight training programs directly to his brain. The rest of us, however, have to do it the old fashioned way: research. Know what books are being published in your area or genre right now. Are there concepts or elements in these books that are similar to your own—and if so, how can you use that to your advantage when pitching it to an agent? Find out where the buzz is and research what contemporary books get warm receptions from critics and bloggers. Don’t let your solitary genius exist in a vacuum; cultivate your professional curiosity and get ahead of any trending patterns.
WHY: When you familiarize yourself with the current publishing landscape, you can articulate what differentiates your book from what’s already out there. Sure, it might have a slightly similar premise to book X and have a protagonist comparable to that of book Y, but yours is fresh and unique. Now all you have to do is tell an agent why (see next section).
HOW: Subscribe to industry publications such as Publisher’s Lunch or Shelf Awareness. Join Goodreads. For any deals and upcoming books that sound interesting, note 1.) what type of novel it is, 2.) what publishing house or imprint has signed it, and 3.) what agent or literary agency managed the deal.
VISIT THE ORACLE.
Neo is taken to see the Oracle, who ends up being a super wise lady who bakes cookies! She’s empathetic, kind, and tells Neo exactly what he needs to hear to get the job done. As far as you’re concerned, you need an agent who does the same thing. You are smart, ambitious, and a fast learner—but an established agent has a wealth of experience. He or she will feel like a godsend when you eventually sell your book (and then cry during a revisions-induced breakdown).
WHY: As you’ve likely heard, most traditional publishers do not accept un-agented submissions. Just as you seek out legal counsel from a lawyer or medical opinions from a nurse, you want the knowledge of a literary agent or agency. Not only do they know the landscape, but they’ve established relationships with editors and have negotiated many deals prior to your own—they know what to ask for, what to look out for, and which opportunities to seize fast.
HOW: Start with your contemporary writing influences. Research the literary agents or agencies that represent these books, and query the hell out of them (see a great query letter tutorial here). Do this relentlessly; don’t even come up for air. Established agents may not have the time or flexibility to work with debut authors, so be sure to research their colleagues as well—today’s hungry junior agent might be tomorrow’s power-player.
STOP BULLETS MID-MOTION; SAVE THE WORLD.
Neo eventually defies the laws of physics; he bends the rules of the Matrix and achieves what he never thought possible. He stops the bullets from those evil agents mid-motion and realizes, “I am the One.” Sure, literary agents have huge slush piles and a giant backlog of unread emails in their inboxes. Maybe they’re scanning for a title that intrigues them or a first line that knocks them flat, and how can you control whether you’ll be the one? Well for starters, you should revise and hone your work as though your life literally depended on it. If that’s not enough, repeat Neo’s mantra as you revise: I am the One. Haven’t you learned by now that the true power to defy the Matrix comes from within?
WHY: Revisions require painstaking will: every sentence is a perfectly crafted gem, and discarding any feels sacrilegious. But in all likelihood your manuscript has entire chapters that should be cut or rearranged and plots that need tightening. So polish, streamline, condense, and revise toward the better, more sellable you. Your book needs to be as taut as Keanu’s torso. It needs to be, in a word, invincible.
HOW: Don’t resist and don’t agonize. Just be merciless. Imagine you are dodging bullets as you cut—no time to over-think, just act. Strip away the non-essentials, or in Neo’s case, the non-reality. Trust yourself to make the right decisions, and stay open to surprise. This book may not be what you thought it was. So let the truth come out. You are the One! You know the end, where Neo sees everything in binary code? It’s beautiful, and liberating.
Rhoda Belleza is an associate editor at Paper Lantern Lit. She received her BA in English and Communications from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is the editor of Cornered: 14 Stories of Bullying and Defiance, published by Running Press. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
At Paper Lantern Lit, we build story from the ground up. Our unique literary incubator model allows us to mentor authors through the novel-writing process, teach narrative architecture, and foster unforgettable voices. For more info, or to submit samples, visit us at paperlanternlit.com.
An Author’s Guide to Amazon: 7 Tools You Should Be Using
by Jennifer Tucker, Smith PublicityWhen it comes to gaining exposure for your book, you’ve likely heard that Amazon’s the place to be. There’s a good chance that your book is already posted on Amazon, and perhaps you’ve even created an author profile. If so, you’re off to a great start… but there are more tools that Amazon offers that you may not have heard of.
- Author Central
Think of Author Central as your “main hub” in the wide world that is Amazon. Beyond creating an author page, which will educate customers about you and your book and display essential information about your biography, blog posts, etc., you can also use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to set up your book for the Kindle if you own electronic rights to it. Also through Author Central, you can track book sales numbers across the US for the past 4 weeks to identify sales trends, can utilize CreateSpace for your self-published book, and can check out Kindle Direct Publishing Select, which will allow you to earn higher royalties.
- Amazon Forums
Amazon offers a large variety of discussion forums for authors, which can help you to network with other authors and expose your book to a new and large audience. You can also learn a lot just by reading other posters’ questions, advice, answers, tips and tools. Feel free to reach out to other authors (who are often avid readers themselves) to ask for feedback on your book, to position yourself as an expert in your field, and to just have fun!
- Amazon Keyword Tags
By using the tagging feature, you can make your book more searchable almost immediately, if done correctly. Check out tags on other books that are in your book’s genre and make your own tags accordingly. The more keywords you have tagged, the better readers will be able to find your book within a slew of other books. Fun tip – think like a reader: what keywords would you use to search your book?
- Amazon’s Listmania!
Listmania! is another neat tool that authors can choose to utilize. It works by positioning your book among other books in your genre by adding your book to book lists, but word to the wise: make sure to be very selective and true to your book’s genre when choosing what list’s to include your book in for best results.
- Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book”
Just as excerpts from your book work to draw readers in, the “Search Inside the Book” feature that Amazon offers allows readers to flip through some of your book, with the goal of making them want to read more. This feature also works to prevent negative comments because the reader knows exactly what they’re getting by having a chance to preview your book. Be sure to have your personal Amazon page set up before you move forward with this tool, as it can take time to be approved by Amazon.
- Amazon Marketplace
Amazon Marketplace serves as a third-party online storefront where you can sell your book alongside the array of other Amazon goods. While it’s a great tool and can offer you more freedom as an author (you can choose to give autographed copies of the book, for instance), authors must be willing to carry a book inventory and must have this inventory already on hand to be set up in the Marketplace. It also requires plenty of time and patience for authors to manage their own online book sales, though many authors enjoy the control that they have over the price of their book and fulfillment of book orders.
- Amazon “So you’d like to…” Guide
With the Amazon “So you’d like to…” guide, you can actually build a guide around your book topic, genre, or specialty, which will position you as the expert of your book or field. A free tool that allows you to think outside the box when it comes to book promotion, this feature will also give you the option to include your book with other Amazon products, essentially creating a “bundle” of items relating to the “So you’d like to…” Guide topic. Authors can choose to write content about the subject and, within the content, mention that the book is for sale on Amazon.
Ben Cameron to Speak at Self-Publishing Conference in UK This MarchThe U.K. 2013 Self-Publishing Conference offers a unique opportunity to meet and interact with influential companies and individuals working in the self-publishing sector. It offers sessions designed to bring new insights into self-publishing, while giving attendees the chance to meet with self-publishers and other specialists in the field.
Held on Sunday, March 24th at the University of Leicester, Smith Publicity U.K. and European Director of Sales and Marketing, Ben Cameron, will be leading a discussion on marketing your book in a competitive world. For more information or to register visit www.selfpublishingconference.org.uk
Display Your Book at the 2013 London Book FairShowcase your book at The London Book Fair (April 15th to 17th). In 2012 over 24 thousand people attended the show from all areas of publishing (book buyers, agents, publishers, editors, librarians, distributors and so many more). The New Title Showcase remains the most accessible and successful of all of London’s exhibits. $275 Price includes display of one book and listing in Combined Book Exhibit’s exclusive catalog.
To register, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (856) 489-8654 x306. Registration deadline: March 11, 2013.