How Do You Find Influencers?

How do you find influencers who can make a difference to you? Here are five tips to find the people who are having an impact in your field:

 

  1. Use BuzzSumo’s free influencer search tool. You can use keywords and find Twitter handles of accounts sharing similar keyword-related content. Filters let you sort results by reach, authority, influence, and engagement.
  2. Try Followerwonk, a free app on Rand Fishkin’s Moz site. This tool lets you search Twitter users based on keywords in their bios and sort results based on their number of followers and social authority.
  3. Twellow is a very useful site that can help you build your audience in several ways. It allows you to search influencers by industry and breaks down results based on location, subject matter, and profession. Another way to find possible influencers by location is to Google it. For example, searching for “mommy bloggers in Pittsburgh” would return lists of top bloggers in the area.
  4. Check out industry-related conferences and scan the speaker list. These are likely to be well-known and influential leaders in your field.
  5. Hashtag research can help you identify influencers with similar interests. Search for a topical hashtag (like #organicfood, #librarian, or #electricalengineer, for example) on Google, Twitter, and Instagram to find others interested in a topic. Dig a little deeper to look at how many followers they have, the engagement they get on their posts, and what kind of content they publish.

 

Once you’ve created a list of influencers, it’s time to start finding ways to connect with them. Don’t “pitch” influencers. Befriend them.

 

from “Known” by Mark Schaefer

 

 

Be Proactive with Industry Leaders

“No matter what topic you want to be known for, you should be proactive with industry leaders,” Aaron said. “You need to mingle with other influencers who can help you along the way. The best approach is to leave your digital footprint everywhere. Do this by liking other people’s photos, commenting on blog posts, helping others out, retweeting, creating guest content on leading blogs, and participating in Twitter chats, to name a few ideas.”

 

from “Known” by Mark Schaefer

 

When to Self-Publish

 

Today’s guest article is from Chris Ferebee of The Christopher Ferebee Agency.

 

I’m often asked by both would be and published authors, if and when to consider self-publishing. For those unpublished, the question often comes from the desire to be published as quickly as possible and frustration with trying to break into the industry. Both are often asking because they’ve read of significant success coming to self-published authors and wondering whether they even need traditional publishers anymore. As a literary agent, I earn a living representing successful authors to commercial publishers, but I absolutely believe there is a place for self-publishing. However, whether successfully published or looking to publish for the first time, there a few considerations that apply across the board.

 

Audience 

Most publishers are looking more and more to the author to help sell their book. Publishers are having a harder time than ever successfully breaking out new authors. However, they can absolutely help amplify an existing audience. When you self-publish, there’s no amplification. You want to know how big your “platform” is? Self-publish. Self-publishing may be a shortcut to selling your content, but there is no shortcut to building a following and an audience for your work. Self-publishing will expose how successful you’ve been at this faster than anything else. 

 

Market 

When you publish with a commercial publisher, your book is generally available anywhere books are sold. When you self-publish, you are typically locked into a specific ecosystem. For example, to sell your book electronically through Amazon, you have to agree to exclusively sell your book on Amazon. Most people don’t consider that a big deal because Amazon controls 65% of the electronic book market. But only 19.5% of all books sold in the US are Amazon Kindle titles. In actuality, you’re tapping into a small segment of the overall book market. If you self-publish into a different ecosystem, you’re reaching an even smaller segment. All the more reason you need to have a robust following for your work to be successful.

 

Fulfillment 

A lot of authors will decide to sell their book directly from their own website to cut out the middle man and retain as much of their revenue as possible. But this means you’ll have to figure out how to deliver your book in the format your audience wants to read it in. Does you audience read on a Kindle, or a Nook, or an iPad? Do they know what specific file format each device uses and how to load that file onto their device once they’ve downloaded it from you? What if your audience wants your book in a physical format? Do you have the means of producing, warehousing and fufilling physical book sales? When you become a direct seller, you have to take all of these things into consideration.

 

In short, there’s no easy street to publishing, self or otherwise.  But if you decide to take the plunge, there can be significant benefits. For a published author, it offers you the ability to offer your audience something to tide them over between commercial releases. It can be an opportunity to generate revenue off of valuable content that makes sense for self-publishing, but that wouldn’t make sense for a commercial publisher to consider. It can allow you to bring a resource to market to capitalize on a trend significantly faster than most commercial publishers will be able to. It can be a valuable tool used to gain fans and followers and build your platform. For a self-published author, when done successfully it can help gain the attention of commercial publishers and prove that you do, in fact, have a loyal following willing to engage with your content. For anyone, it can be an opportunity to try your hand at content that doesn’t necessarily fit your “brand,” but allows you to introduce your audience to some of your other interests and creative endeavors.

 

As a few examples, here are some books my commercially published clients have released as self-published works for many of the reasons above: 

 

Charles Martin – River Road: A collection of short stories from Charles’ early writing days. 

Timothy Willard – Shine So Bright: A beautiful children’s Christmas story, successfully funded on Kickstarter and now available for sale. 

Margaret Feinberg – Live Loved: An adult coloring book encouraging scripture memorization, which has since been contracted and published by Bethany House. 

Rob Bell – Millones Cajones: A fun and surprising novel about a motivational speaker that suffers a crises of identity.

 

 

Getting the Most Out of a Writers’ Conference

 

– by Brian Allain

Many attendees of our writers’ conferences have asked for advice on how they can get the most out the writers’ conferences they attend.  Here is a handy checklist full of ideas for you to use. If you have any suggestions, let us know!

 

Before the conference

  • Research the industry professionals speaking
    • For each publishing house rep: What types of books do they publish? (including genres/topics/authors) What types of books do they not publish? Who are the authors they’ve recently published? Are their books similar to yours? How does yours fit? Or not? What questions would you like to ask them?
    • For each agent: What types of authors/books do they represent? Are they looking for new authors to represent? Which publishing houses have they sold to? Are their other authors similar to you? What questions would you like to ask them?
  • Research the authors speaking
    • What books have they written? Are any similar to yours? What kinds of questions would you like to ask them?
  • See if any of your writer friends are also attending
    • It is always helpful to have a friend to bounce ideas with
  • Watch for social media posts and emails from the conference organizers in order to learn more about the speakers
  • Prepare yourself
    • Know who you are and what you are looking for
    • Have your elevator pitch ready
      • It should vary a little, depending on who you’re speaking with
      • Practice your pitch with a friend or two
      • “You need to be prepared to answer questions. Think through specific questions someone might have about your project. Some obvious questions you should be able to respond to: Are there other books similar to yours already in the market? If so, what is your unique contribution to the topic? What other writing have you done similar to this? Have you built an audience and is this the type of work they’d expect from you?” – agent Chris Ferebee
    • Design a one-pager
      • “… an easy-to-read and cleanly styled document with your name, contact information, a short bio, the title of your work, a 2-3 sentence hook, and 5-6 paragraph description of your main thesis or idea” – agent Chris Ferebee
    • Get business cards printed
    • Know what matters most to you
  • Construct your priority list of people to meet
  • Understand what types of sign-ups are required for specific parts of the conference, and understand how they work
  • Plan your schedule for the conference
  • Contact the conference organizers to get their suggestions

 

At the conference

  • Get there early (allow for bad traffic), get oriented, and meet people
  • Dive in, and don’t check out – pay attention! Be present.
  • Be humble, patient, and courteous
    • No one likes to speak with someone who is boastful / snooty / condescending / pushy / monopolizes a conversation / etc.
    • Abide by our Code of Conduct
    • Dress professionally
  • Be there to learn
    • Write things down. A conference tends to be a whirlwind, and it is easy to forget some of what you’ve heard and learned, so jot things down as you go.
  • Be active on social media during the conference, using the conference hashtag or handle
  • Make sure you meet with the people you’ve prioritized
    • Don’t forget to make a good first impression; err on the side of politeness, not pushiness
    • Ask questions; if time allows, ask them about their work before telling them about yours
    • “If your opening ice breaker is a statement about why you are excited to meet with this person because you know they work with a specific author or have published a specific book or set of books that are similar to you or what you’re working on, you’ll have their undivided attention.”  – agent Chris Ferebee
    • Get their business card, and give them yours
    • Generally speaking, hand them a one-pager or a business card, not a manuscript or a book
    • Once you’ve met them, don’t keep after them; no stalking
  • Meet as many new people as you can, and be ready to be surprised – you never know who you will meet that will end up being very important, perhaps in an unexpected way
    • But don’t start the conversation by pitching your book; instead ask questions and learn about the other person
    • This is a great opportunity to meet other authors who have similar interests
    • You may learn about a local writers group you can join
    • You may start a new relationship that becomes extremely valuable in the future
    • Don’t be afraid to request an introduction to someone who you would like to meet
    • “At my first conference, I met my future agent, found an editor and made new writer friends. At my most recent conferences, I’ve found it rewarding to teach workshops, moderate panels and reconnect with friends.” – Carol Van Den Hende
  • Get to know the conference organizers
  • Be prepared to change

 

After the conference

  • Follow up with the people you met
    • Wait until a couple of days after the conference, but don’t wait more than a week
    • Send a thank you note to the conference organizer and to others you met. You never know how it might help you.
  • Don’t get depressed; know that, for most people, there is a natural letdown from the “high” you were on during the conference
  • Use this opportunity to blog about what you learned at the conference. Don’t forget to tag the conference organizer in your posts on social media 🙂
  • Expert conference-goers know that it’s a good idea to return to the same conferences regularly. It’s the best way to establish meaningful, long-term relationships.
  • The conference might be a business expense for you; don’t forget to save your receipts for tax time.
  • Finally, from Sarah Arthur: “‘Here is the world,’ Frederick Buechner said: ‘beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.’ Write that world. Write those beautiful and terrible things. Write the fear, the courage. Write as if you could salve the hunger, quench the thirst, part light from darkness.”

Flowing

The Internet is the world’s largest copy machine. At its most fundamental level this machine copies every action, every character, every thought we make while we ride upon it. In order to send a message from one corner of the Internet to another, the protocols of communication demand that the whole message be copied dozens of times in an ordinary day as the cycle through memory, cache, server, routers, and back. Tech companies make a lot of money selling equipment that facilitates this ceaseless copying. If something can be copied – a song, a movie, a book – and it touches the Internet, it will be copied.

 

– Kevin Kelly “The Inevitable”

Straight from the Authors – Part  2

In this article Angela Scheff from the Christopher Ferebee Agency interviews several amazing authors—Lisa Whittle, Jonathan Merritt and Leeana Tankersley—who describe their writing process and what surprised them about the publishing process.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WRITING? WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE MOST ABOUT IT?

 

LW: I love the process of seeing the book unfold and turn into a complete heart offering. I see it much like painting a picture, which at first doesn’t look like much, but in the end, it’s a beautiful creation. I love the idea that the words God uses my fingers to write will help people—that always blows me away. Most of all, I love what happens between God and me while I’m writing and how He teaches me things I desperately need to learn.

 

I dislike the headspace I have to pop in and out of in order to still do daily life in the midst of trying to create. Coming in and out of writing is hard for me—I get consumed by a thought and then suddenly, I have to go to my son’s ballgame and have small talk with people. I find that challenging!

 

JM: I like the freedom. Every occupation has trade offs. If you’re a writer, you’re probably giving up money. Writers don’t make tons of cash, especially at first. If you’re a writer, you’re probably giving up security. Most writers don’t have a regular paycheck. If you’re a writer, you’re probably giving up serenity. The job is hectic and you’ll attract your share of haters. But if you’re a writer, you’ll gain a measure of freedom. If you value that—and I do—then you might enjoy being a writer.

 

LT: When I was 9, my parents divorced, and somehow I could not shake out that experience any other way than writing. I was intuitively drawn to writing, which both comforted me and saved me. I wrote poems about huge Clydesdales. I wrote about my broken heart even though I don’t think I realized it was broken. I was in shock and my system was stunned and I wrote.

 

Whether it was my own words or the words of someone else, I have been met so deeply and entirely by words. Certain voices and books have whispered my own truth to me when I could not name it for myself. I have laughed and cried along with perfect strangers through the portal of narrative, which always serves to remind us of both our wounds and our wonder. And I can think of no greater honor than to get to do that, too. To offer the simple loaves and fishes of my life and see if there might possibly be a moment of divine multiplication and nourishment that occurs. This is what art does for the human soul. Through truth and beauty, art sets us free. It saves us: word by word, image by image, line by line. God, I love that.

 

Working alone is probably writing’s biggest gift and biggest curse for me. I think God is often trying to get me to hush and stop squirming and retire my thinking cap that I am so attached to. He wants to partner with me in this work, but I am so often wanting a white board and a strategic plan and long boardroom table full of really smart people who can figure out my entire career for me.

 

Instead, God uses writing to quiet me down—which I both treasure and resent.

 

Over the years, God has rallied an incredible team around me and continues to do so. Agents, editors, readers, a therapist—it takes a village. And so I’m making peace with the solitary time—even though it’s not my first instinct—because I know it’s one of the ways that God gets me to hold still.

 

WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT THE PUBLISHING PROCESS?

 

LW: How much of an intricate process it really is. It’s a lot of waiting, more waiting, and working diligently on all ends. Writers sometimes have a hard time saying we have a “real” job when we write books. Writing books is a business and a job, like everything else. I realized that fairly quickly when I began to write. I don’t have trouble saying I have a job anymore.

 

JM: How long it takes. I think most people who are unfamiliar with writing assume that books pop onto shelves in a matter of months. Not so. Most books take 18 to 24 months to create. Some take longer. The author has to come up with a good idea, turn that into a professional proposal, find an agent, shop the project to publishers, wait for offers, negotiate a contract, research and write the book, endure the editing process, and then navigate the tricky waters of marketing, publicity, and sales. It’s grueling. Writing is not for the faint of heart or the impatient.

 

LT: The publishing process requires a multitude of skills. Sometimes it feels like writing is 5% of the job and the rest is a magic combination of marketing, promoting, publicizing, speaking, selling, pre-selling, appearing, blogging, tweeting, posting, boosting, networking, filming, recording.

 

Truly, all of those efforts are required, and I think some people find this very energizing, but I tend to find this confusing. I’ve been surprised at how turned around I feel sometimes, unsure of where to put my best energy.

How to Approach a Literary Agent for Representation

– by Tim Beals, Credo Literary Agency

After writing a book proposal that includes two or three sample chapters, make a list of agents that seem appropriate for you and your work, using the resources provided above. Do not send unsolicited proposals or manuscripts to agents; send a query email first. A query is a message to an agent that describes a piece of writing and asks if the agent would like to see it (see “How to Query an Agent” below). Make your inquiry by email. No snail mail or blind phone calls. You may write to as many agents at a time as you like—eight to ten is typical—but send the emails individually, not to a group list. Address the recipient by name.

Expect responses in one to six weeks. Be wary of agents who take longer than six weeks. If an agent does not respond to your query, which is common, forget about them. You may assume you are being deliberately ignored.

Send your book proposal only when requested by an agent. If several agents ask to see your work, email it to the one you like most, along with a brief note thanking the agent for their interest and reminding them of their request to see your manuscript. (If an agent requests your project while another agent is looking at it, say so straightforwardly and offer to show them the piece if you cannot work something out with the other agent.) If an agent turns down your query or proposal, merely thank the agent for his or her time and consideration and move on. Continue this process until an agent agrees to represent your project.

How to Query an Agent

Here are seven tips for being professional, friendly, and effective when making that all-important first contact with an agent.

  1.     Write to an agent by name, or by name and title (for example, Karen Neumair, Senior Agent), not merely by title or agency.
  2.     Do not use Mr., Ms., Mrs., or Miss unless you are sure of the person’s gender, marital status, and preference. Instead, write “Dear Karen Neumair.”
  3.     Make your query brief. It may be (and should be!) as short as two or three paragraphs. No more than one page if submitted as an attachment; no more than two page views if included in the body of your email.
  4.     Begin your query by introducing yourself. Include any relevant information about yourself, your credentials, and your writing—any significant writing awards or fellowships you’ve received, any significant and clearly related advanced study in writing, and your previous publications on the same topic. Be sure to list your previous relevant sales and publications; if you have several, stick with the major ones. In either case, only mention the ones likely to impress the agent.
  5.     In a separate paragraph, explain your project. Mention the title and a few words of description. If it is nonfiction, explain its theme, audience, approach, purpose, overall content, and how it is distinctive from other books on the same topic. If it is fiction, write a very brief plot synopsis. Be sure to explain what makes your piece unusual or what special experience you have had that informs it.
  6.     Do not mention any of the following in a query:
  •  Who has read and rejected the piece.
  •  What anyone else has said about the piece (unless it is a well-known published author).
  •  How long and hard you’ve worked on the piece.
  •  Acknowledgment of others for their assistance.
  •  Any admission that the proposal and samples are in less than ideal shape. (If they still need work, don’t send queries to agents yet!)
  •  A request for comments, criticism, advice, or instruction.
  •  How thrilled you would be to see your work in print.
  •  Anything about your life not strictly relevant to your submission.
  •  The rights you wish to sell.
  •  How much money you want for the piece (or any discussion of price or payment).
  1.     End your message by asking if the agent would care to review the proposal, and thank them for their time and consideration.

Take Advantage of Them!

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Our best-in-class authors and industry experts have given you their best – their best presentations in their specific areas of expertise. So why not take advantage of them?

Each of the following video presentations is available for individual purchase. They are all approximately one hour in length, including Q&A. Watch them on your schedule, from your home or office. Click on the title to learn more about the video and purchase it.

 

Presentations on How to Write:

 

Presentations on How to Get Published:

 

Presentations on How to Market:

 

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