Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How join the "Tweet the Author" discussion with Andy Andrews

It has been about a week since we announced the first "Tweet the Author" chat with Andy Andrews, which will take place tomorrow on Twitter from 1-2 PM CST and we are excited about the initial reaction.

This is a fairly new concept and we have since received a few questions (even from experienced tweeters) on how to join in on the discussion with Andy.

Here is a step-by-step guide to taking part in the discussion tomorrow:

- To join in on the live discussion with Andy on Wed afternoon, you will need to have a Twitter account.

- Log into your account at 1 PM CST and type in #thenoticer in the right hand search column.

- Once you do that and hit enter, it will bring up the live discussion with Andy and you can view recent questions from readers and Andy's answers.

- To refresh the discussion, type in #thenoticer in the right hand search column again and hit enter or refresh your page.

- To ask a question or make a comment, simply type out your tweet and add the #thenoticer hashtag to the end (this essentially identifies your tweet as part of this specific discussion), refresh the search and it will show up in the live chat.

If you have any questions or issues joining the chat, please contact me at rshelton@phenixpublicity.com or DM us @PhenixandPhenix.

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Tweet the Author: Brandon Sanderson

What: Tweet live with New York Times best-selling author Brandon Sanderson about his newest book, Warbreaker.

When: Wednesday, July 8th, from 1-2 PM CST

Where: Twitter (hashtag #tweettheauthor)

How: As part of the "Tweet the Author" discussion, Brandon Sanderson will be chatting/tweeting live on Twitter for the full hour to answer questions and chat with fans, readers, bloggers and others.

To join in on the live discussion with Brandon, you will need to have a Twitter account. Assuming that you do, here are step-by-step instructions for joining the chat:

  1. Log in to your account and type in #tweettheauthor in the right hand search column.
  2. Hit enter and bring up the live discussion with Brandon. At this point you will be able to view recent questions from readers and his answers.
  3. To refresh the discussion, type in #tweettheauthor in the right hand search column again and hit enter or refresh your page.
  4. To ask a question or make a comment, simply type out your tweet and add the #tweettheauthor hashtag to the end (this essentially identifies your tweet as part of this specific discussion)
  5. Once you have tweeted your question, update the page and it will show up in the live chat.
  6. If you have any questions or issues joining the chat, please contact me at rshelton@phenixpublicity.com or DM us @PhenixandPhenix.
More about Brandon Sanderson:

One of the most exciting new voices in science fiction and fantasy literature, Brandon Sanderson's latest novel, Warbreaker (Tor Hardcover | 0-7653-2030-4 | $27.95 | June 9, 2009), debuted on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction bestseller list.

But the road to the bestseller list wasn't without bumps.

Five years ago, Sanderson was a college student by day and a hotel front desk clerk by night. He wrote while sitting at the hotel desk from 11 pm—5 am, did homework from 5—7 am, went to class until about 4pm, went home and sleep, then started all over again. He wrote 12 unpublished manuscripts that way, before a chance encounter led him to send his unagented manuscript to an editor at a convention.

More than a year passed and Brandon had given up all hope. When the editor finally got the chance to pick it up and read a few hundred pages, he immediately knew he wanted to buy it. Sanderson’s first published book, Elantris (Tor, 2005), earned a Publishers Weekly starred review was chosen by Barnes and Noble.com editors as the best fantasy or sci-fi book of the year.

Today a best-selling author, Sanderson continues to offer his fresh brand of fantasy with the Mistborn series. He was recently chosen by the wife of the late author Robert Jordan to complete his international bestselling Wheel of Time series, which will release in November.

Visit the author's website for additional information.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

WLOT Wrap-Up and Tweet-Up!

We had a great time at the Writers’ League of Texas Conference this past weekend--it’s always nice to meet writers and authors face-to-face. Hopefully those who attended learned a lot from networking with agents and fellow writers and listening to some excellent seminars.

This year Phenix & Phenix sponsored the event and participated in a couple of panels. Senior publicist Tolly Moseley moderated a panel called "Media Madness: How to Land Ink, Airtime, and Buzz" and had this to say about it:
The two most common questions I get as a publicist are: A) How can I get on Oprah? and B) How can I get my book reviewed by the New York Times? So at Sunday's panel, Allen Chen (editor-in-chief of Austinist), Jennifer Stayton (host of "Morning Edition" on KUT-FM, Austin's NPR affiliate), and Kimberley Jones (books editor of Austin Chronicle) joined me to discuss the ways authors and their publicists can grab media's attention. Knowing how to pitch your own book is a very valuable skill, so we wanted to give attending writers and authors some insights on the things media members look for. We lobbed questions on our panelists on topics ranging from "what email subject line makes you actually open a pitch?" to "how do you decide who gets a book review?" to "man, why doesn't Oprah just say no and stop booking every little guest opportunity that comes her way?" (just kidding on that last part).

We got very nuanced answers from our panelists. While Kimberley Jones is really focused on a book's content when deciding who gets coverage, Allen Chen is a little more interested in an author's backstory and their involvement with the local community. Jennifer Stayton comes at book coverage from a news angle, so what she really needs is a tie to a local, current event before she books an interview. The one consistent answer we got from our panelists is the frequency they're being pitched: they receive, at minimum, 100 pitch emails a month about books or authors. Of those, less than 10% will get coverage. So if you don't get the booking you wanted this time, authors, remember that it really is competitive out there! Research the outlet, find a unique way to link your book in to the show's/website's/paper's audience, and eventually, you WILL land something.
Saturday's "Perils of Publicity" panel discussion went very well. I was excited to be there with Phil West, Susan Blount, and Nashville's Julie Gerke. We talked about the changing face of literary publicity, social media strategies, and fielded questions from the audience.

What surprised me most about the audience were the horrified and overwhelmed looks we received as we encouraged authors to plug in online via blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other avenues to build their platforms. While some authors consider this to be more work--and it certainly is--I encouraged the audience to think about the opportunity it provides for them to take their writing futures into their own hands.

Five or ten years ago, authors had no hope but to catch the attention of a literary agent or editor with their proposal. If that agent or editor didn't like what they saw, there was no way to prove there was a market for the work. Now, a highly-trafficked blog or a large Twitter following allows an author to do just that. Obviously you can still catch an agent's attention without this type of platform, but I hope the audience left excited about the opportunities that such a platform gives an author.

To that end, we also sponsored a “Tweet-Up” at the conference to encourage everyone to be a part of the Twitter phenomenon. There were quite a few authors who already had Twitter accounts, although some were at a bit of a loss as to how to use it. As we explained to them, Twitter is an ongoing, online conversation, and you’ll get out of it what you put into it. There are some great posts about Twitter and how writers can use it here and here. Not surprisingly, many in the book world have joined Twitter and are offering a wealth of insight and information about the industry. For a huge list of book industry "tweeters," click here.

At the Tweet-Up, we asked people to write down their Twitter handles, as well as their websites and book titles (if they had them) and tweet from the conference using the hashtag #wltcon. We’re posting the full list of participants so that these authors can find each other online and start networking with their peers:

Kendra Crispin; @Dancing Writer; Title: Emerging from the Shadows
Tena Laing; @TwinTexTwo; Title: Tokyo Mingled
Matt Schulz; @MatthewSchulz; Title: Cooperstown Band
Sara; @chikitlinski
Eric Gibson; @ecgibsonphd; Title: Nine Lords of the Night
Jay Ehret; @TheMarketingGuy; Title: Straddling the Fence
Beth Sample; @Beth_Sample
Linda Pennell; @LindaPennell; Title: The Calling
Bob Doerr; @rddoerr
Brad Whittington; @SitOnTwit; Title: Welcome to Fred
Alan J. Porter; @ealanjporter; Title: James Bond: The Illustrated 007
Holly Wonder; @hollywon
Sandy Lawrence; @sandylawrence
Matt Patterson; @mepatterson
Toby Heidel; @redplanetaudio
Belinda Acosta; @BelindaGene; Title: Dames, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz
Senay Ozdemir; @femalealchemist; Title: The Wax Club
Writers' League of Texas; @WritersLeague
Shennandoah Diaz; @shennandoahdiaz; Title: A Coyote Among Us
Jason Myers; @jaypers
Lindsay Powell; @Lindsay_Powell; Title: Eagles Over Germania
Stacy S. Jensen; @StacyWrites
Shannon Morgan; @nomadshan; Title: Briar-Bound
Lydia Ondrusek; @littlefluffycat

These authors came by our table but didn’t have Twitter accounts yet, so maybe we can encourage them to start:

Darrell Berry; Title: Early This Morning
David Nowlin; Title: Maggie Mulligan and the Priceless Gem of Fare-Rune
Rhonda Leverett

If you were at the conference but didn’t get a chance to “Tweet-Up” with us, just leave your name and Twitter handle in the comments.

Thanks again to the Writers' League for hosting such a great event. We look forward to next year's!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Twitter chat: Writers' League of Texas Agents Conference

The Writers' League of Texas Agents Conference kicks off today here in the Capitol City and we'll be bringing you live updates via Twitter on hashtag #WLTCON.

Tune in for highlights from many of the great discussions that will be taking place over the course of the weekend including former William Morrow publisher and keynote Michael Murphy.

There will also be lots of buzz about book publicity, especially in the face of a very changing media landscape so don't miss these two panels:
  • "The Perils of Publicity: How to Build a Platform and Buzz for Your Book" moderated by WLT Board Member Susan Blount on Saturday at 1:45pm CT. Three book publicity pros including P&P managing director Rusty Shelton will chime in their thoughts on how to promote yourself and your book before you even land the book deal.
  • "Media Madness: How to Land Ink, Airtime, and Buzz" sponsored by yours truly - Phenix & Phenix - on Sunday morning at 9 CT. You'll hear from Austin Chronicle's Kimberley Jones, KUT reporter and Morning Edition host Jennifer Stayton, and the Austinist editor Allen Chen about how authors and publishers can effectively work with the media.
For a full conference lineup, go here. See you on Twitter #WLTCON!

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Would you like to "Tweet the Author" on Wednesdays?

You've read the book. It's awesome--but you have a question that's been nagging you since the end of chapter five.

What was the author thinking with that plot twist?!

If only the author were dropping by your local Barnes & Noble you could put him on the spot and learn more about the story behind the book.

Sigh--you live in Amarillo and it is unlikely the author is going to appear in person at your local bookstore.

What to do?

For those readers who don't have a chance to meet the author in person, how about "Tweeting the Author" on Twitter?

In an effort to connect readers with some of the coolest authors in the industry, we are pleased to announce the start of a new live weekly "Tweet the Author" discussion where great authors join a live chat with readers on Twitter on Wednesday afternoons from 1-2 PM CST.

Who will we hear from first?
Andy Andrews, best known for his book, The Traveler's Gift and now the The Noticer (Thomas Nelson) which is now sitting on the New York Times bestseller list for the sixth consecutive week.

How can I chime in?
On Wednesday, July 1st, from 1-2 PM CST Andy Andrews will tweet with readers on the #thenoticer hashtag. To join the chat just search "#thenoticer" in the right hand column and hit enter. That will allow you to bring up all of the recent "tweets" in the discussion.

At that point, type in your question or comment to Andy--but make sure you add "#thenoticer" to the end of your question so that it will be added to the current discussion and Andy will be able to respond.

Stay tuned -- a big announcement about the July 8th featured author is coming soon!

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Get Shorty: American Short Fiction comes to Austin, Texas

Hey Austin literati, there's some fun happening this week:

American Short Fiction Summer Reading

American Short Fiction is celebrating their Summer issue with us Austinites, and sent over this mini-release to us:

"Come for an evening of music, fiction, and drinks! Christie Hodgen is flying in from Kansas City to read from her brilliant story featured in the current issue, actress Kelli Bland will be performing from Patrick Somerville's "The Universe in Miniature in Miniature," and poet (and new Austinite) Laurie Capps will also read. Emceed by ASF favorite, Owen Egerton! Refreshments will be provided by Live Oak Brewing Company."

So there you have it: beer and books! What could be better? Details on the event:

Friday, June 26
Cafe Caffeine
909 West Mary St.
Austin, Texas

Hope to see some of you locals out there!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to market to college kids

One of the many reasons that we love being in Austin is the great pipeline of talent we have for our intern program from the University of Texas and other central Texas Universities.

Our interns helps us do research, pack press kits, handle mail-outs and--from time to time--write blog posts.

Today's post is from Jaclyn Thomas, who is a member of one of the toughest demographics for authors, publishers and publicists to reach--the college crowd.

As Jaclyn points out below, although college kids are busy and have little-to-no disposable income, they do buy cool books and this post is all about how to give your book the best chance at being one of them:

Between studying for exams, keeping up with family members and friends, and finding free food on campus, college students don’t have a lot of free time or money to read books for pleasure. As a college student, I very rarely have time to read anything other than my textbooks. When I do read for pleasure, it’s because a book has been recommended or given to me, because, let’s face it, I’m not going to spend what little money I have on a book that may or may not be worthwhile.

I started thinking about the last three books I read and why I read them and I realized that the first two were highly recommended by my friends and the third was given to me. So, does this mean that I am somehow out-of-the-loop in terms of hearing about new books or are companies methods of reaching out to college students just not effective?

Until I started working for P&P, I frankly wasn’t receiving any information about new books. Granted I never actively searched for new books, this seems very strange to me because I’m by no means living in a cave. College students are so busy trying to stay on top of school work and maintaining a social life that they don’t even think about finding out about new books. If information about a book isn’t put right in front of us, we’re not going to see it.

So how are companies trying to reach out to college students about new books? Most companies are currently using a few tactics to target the college audience and some attempts are more successful than others.
  • Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace: Many companies are jumping on the social networking bandwagon and promoting books through these sites. Using social networking sites to promote books could be the most effective way to reach college students because they allow members to instantly share and review the books they like with all of their friends. With budget and time constraints, the power of friends and recommendations is incomparable. This is the genius of Facebook: it puts it all in one place. We can see what books our friends like and then, if we hear enough good things, we may go and do further research about purchasing it. Grade: PASS
  • Traditional Media, Book Reviews, Author and Book Websites: Unfortunately, while this marketing tactic may be successful for other target markets, these types of websites are ineffective for the college student demographic. We all have at least two email addresses, Facebook, Twitter, and even MySpace pages to check every time we get online. This means many college kids don’t have the time to look up information about new books to read unless the information is on a site we’re already on. On the off chance a college student has the time to Google search a particular book, if a link to a Facebook page pops up on Google first, the other websites don’t stand a chance. Facebook offers the power of friend referrals that personalized book websites can’t. Grade: FAIL
  • YouTube: Book trailers are becoming a popular promotional tactic that I think could be right on the money. However, this is still an up-and-coming tactic that many college students don’t know about. Although I didn’t know about book trailers until I started working for Phenix and Phenix, I feel that this marketing tactic still has the potential to be very successful among college students. Every student I know visits YouTube on a weekly, if not daily, basis, including me. Students are much more likely to watch a promotional video for a book than to read descriptions online about it because it takes less effort. Also, book trailers can be easily reviewed by, shared with, and sent to friends. Grade: PASS
So, just to wrap up, if you want to generate buzz among college students, be smart about how you promote your book. We have very little time to read for fun and probably won’t read anything not recommended or given to us. Also, keep in mind that the book being promoted has to be good enough to be recommended to others. Clever marketing campaigns alone aren’t going to be enough for college students to recommend your book to someone close to them.

If you want us to read it, promote your book on social networking sites or on YouTube because the sad truth is that we’re probably not going to take chances or put in a lot of effort to find the information ourselves.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Back to the scene of the crime: publishing heads back to Austin

In case you haven't heard, it didn't go so well the last time the publishing industry headed to Austin.

The scene of the crime was SXSW Interactive.


New Think; Old Publishers; infamous hashtags (#sxswbp); snarky tweets; frustrated geeks; and another public flogging of the publishing industry.

The Casual Optimist called it a 140 character assassination. Booksquare said "there wasn't a single new think in the room." Medialoper connected "crash" with "burn" in its analysis.

Although I think the panelists were walking into a lion's den at that event, it doesn't change the fact that it produced some very negative press thanks to what many considered to be a lack of new think.

Since then, the clichés have flowed like wine at a book party. “It’s time for publishing to turn the page and embrace digital content delivery.” “Book publishers need to close the book on risky multi-million dollar advances.” Ad nauseum.

This recession has been just that—a wake-up call for numerous industries that have been avoiding change—including publishing. But now that the economy has the publishing industry’s attention, how should we respond?

Would heading back to Austin be a good start?

Many in publishing seem to think so, as a star-studded group of literary agents, editors and authors will be in attendance at the 16th annual Writers League of Texas Agents Conference the weekend of June 26-28th.

The event features provides a full schedule of panels and lectures on a variety of writing and publishing topics, including “Is It Really a Book? How to Tell if Your Big Idea Is Book Worthy” (with Gail Ross), “Publishing Insiders: How Books Are Bought and Published” and “Querial Killers: How NOT to Get an Agent” (with agent Katharine Sands, author of Making the Perfect Pitch).

Perhaps most notably, Michael Murphy, former publisher at William Morrow and founder of Max & Co. Literary Agency and Social Club (love that name), will deliver the keynote speech titled “Sitting in a Cardboard Box, Saying Vroom Vroom & Pretending It’s a Car: Book Publishing 2009.”

“For the last six to nine months, the book business has felt much closer to Revolution than Evolution. It seems that all of us in publishing are obsessively talking about the bottle rather than the wine,” says Murphy. “My talk at the conference could well add to the clutter and confusion as I try to make sense of what's going on. But I also aim to offer a glimmer of hope to any writer aspiring to be read.”

Here's betting Murphy sets the tone for an event that allows us to continue the dialogue on how our industry can evolve in a way that reflects the high level intellect, innovation, creativity and savvy of those working in it.

Those attending the WLT Agents Conference are likely to find fresh ideas, tips for polishing their manuscript, the latest publicity tactics, great networking opportunities, 100 degree heat, Shiner Bock Beer, great enchiladas and an awesome night life.

I'll be looking for some new think and will keep you updated throughout the weekend via our Twitter account and the event's hashtag (#wltcon).

Full conference press release available here.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

15 Years of P&P

We are 15 years old this month!

In honor of our 15 year anniversary, here is a collage that features a small sampling of the many books we have had the pleasure of representing through the years.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Before you guest post, read this.

So you've been invited to be a guest blogger. This 'virtual op-ed' invitation is often a great opportunity to weigh in under the banner of a reputed news organization or an individual blog, and a great place to gain a little publicity for yourself as well. Keep in mind, what you say within the blog, could be quoted elsewhere and the rules of traditional journalism also apply here within the blogging community. Need a few pointers before you post? Read on.
  1. State your opinion. When writing as a guest blogger, feel free to add commentary to the issue at hand, but stay on task and whatever you do, avoid the temptation to push your book. Book mentions are usually reserved for the byline.
  2. Honor the guidelines. Shoot for approx. 500-700 words to keep from being too verbose and ask for a set of guidelines from the editor so you're clear on the assignment.
  3. Fact check your work. That includes stats, figures, research and especially quotes from other sources. Just like traditional journalism, watch out for statements that could be libelous or slanderous.
  4. Credential yourself. You owe it to the readers to let them know why you are a trustworthy source. Provide the blog editor a one paragraph bio, remembering to highlight significant media attention you may have had in the past. Make sure you have a professional headshot available too, as they often accompany most guest posts.
  5. Welcome edits. When your post hits the chopping block, keep in mind the editor will read for clarity, grammar and spelling, and will likely contact you if significant changes are necessary. Expect a few rounds of edits, and be flexible on the headline.
  6. Research. Catch up on other guest blog posts to get a feel for their tone. Don't forget to clue into the comments, so you're prepared for the kind of response your post may generate.
  7. Respond. Once the post is live, pay attention to reader comments and don't be surprised if a few aren't exactly in your favor. Be personable and engage in the conversation by posting additional points that clarify the argument or answer reader questions. If the conversation becomes hostile, sometimes it's best to remove yourself from the dialogue entirely and allow your publicist to act on your behalf.

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