Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG: Sept 2014 - Ask PZM

Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month, Insecure Writer's Support Group day. IWSG is the brainchild of our noble leader Alex J. Cavanaugh, who understands our need for fellowship.

If this sounds like a group for you, check out IWSG's webpage for instructions.

It's a simple process:

"Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post."

Our Twitter Hashtag is #IWSG

Alex's co-hosts for today are Laura at My Baffling Brain, mark Koopmans,Shah Wharton, and Sheena-Kay Graham.

Please stop by and thank them for their time.

THANKS, co-hosts!

Before we continue to Phyllis's post for Ask PZM, I have some exciting news.

It's IWSG Anniversary!

Today marks three years since the very first IWSG post. Next month marks one year since the IWSG site and Facebook group opened. And we’d like you to help us celebrate!

The IWSG Team is putting together an eBook that will benefit all writers - The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. And we invite all IWSG members, Facebook members, and followers to contribute.

Here are the details:

The three topics will be writing, publishing, and marketing.

Each contribution needs to be between 200 and 1000 words. Focus on one of those three aspects and give us your best tip or procedure. The essay can include bullet points, top ten lists, and recommendations. (Websites, software, books, etc.)

You can either post it for your October 1 IWSG post or email it directly. or (Since the length can go over the standard IWSG post length.) Include a one sentence byline and a link to your site. Also state that you give us permission to use it in the book and which topic it falls under. (We will only edit for misspellings and grammar mistakes.)

All submissions need to be sent or posted by October 2, 2014. We will compile them into an eBook and aim for an early December release. The book will be free and available for all eReaders.

Thank you for making the IWSG such a huge success!!

Ask PZM Sept 2014

Q. Do you believe it’s never too late to promote our earlier novels? If so, why? If not, why not?

I absolutely believe it is never too late to promote earlier novels. That said, though, let’s look at some considerations.

Ebook formats

Do these earlier novels have ebook formats available? If not, I would recommend getting a well-formatted Kindle version to start with. Then I would recommend enrolling these new Kindle ebooks in KDP Select for at least a one-time 90-day period of exclusivity before putting the ebooks out on other platforms (if you decide to do this).

During the 90-day KDP Select exclusive you have the opportunity for free promotion days or a Kindle Countdown Deal along with being paid if your ebooks are borrowed in the KU monthly subscription program or the Amazon Prime program. (See Ask PZM for August 2014 for more information on these two “borrow” programs at )

Of course, when you have these earlier books turned into ebooks, you’ll be sure to include within these ebooks the links to all your books on Amazon and other sites. Thus these earlier books can also serve as marketing tools for all your books.

(Yes, if your physical books are no longer available in stores, this makes the ebook formats even more important.)

How can these ebooks help sell your earlier physical books?

Whether you are just having your earlier novels turned into ebooks, or whether you already have ebooks of these earlier novels, you can promote these earlier novels via social media. Use links that send prospective readers to pages that show both the ebook and physical book formats (Amazon or your own website, for example).

Or if your ebooks are not currently exclusive on KDP Select, you can choose to give away free downloads of your ebooks in order to encourage people to buy the physical books.

For example, you could provide a free ebook for book club members to read in order to consider recommending the book for their club. While many clubs may only read physical books for the actual meetings, a club member could read an ebook in order to make a book recommendation. (Do remember, though, that your physical books must be available somewhere for the book club members to obtain.)

Mechanics aside of promoting earlier novels, let’s discuss why of course you want to do this.

You worked very hard on your earlier novels. Perhaps you would tweak them a little (which you can do before creating the ebooks, or you can revise the ebooks), yet you still think the stories are good ones. Then you have an obligation to prospective readers to share these earlier stories.

Thanks to the Internet, the lifespan of a book can go on indefinitely in ebook format if not physical format. We authors today should take advantage of this unlimited virtual “shelf life.”

I see no reason NOT to promote our earlier novels except that, as in everything else, it is a time commitment. But this is a time commitment that can help our newer novels too. What’s the downside of a little extra love for our older “children”?

Additional consideration re promoting earlier novels

If an earlier novel were self-published, there is also the consideration that an agent might be interested in representing such a novel that was popular with readers. Each year Writer’s Digest magazine has an issue featuring agents interested in new clients. I tweeted the editor of the magazine asking if, in the future, the blurbs on each agent could include whether the agents would consider self-published books.

Here is what I wrote on this subject in a post on my own author blog:

After reading the information in Writer’s Digest, via Twitter I asked Jessica Strawser (@JessicaStrawser) — editor of Writer’s Digest magazine — if it would be possible for next year’s issue to include in the agent bios which agents will consider self-published books.

She replied that I might be able to get insight on this question now by asking Chuck Sambuchino (@ChuckSambuchino), author of the agent feature in this year’s magazine as well as editor of the annual GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and CHILDREN’S WRITER’S and ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET plus author of CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM and GET AN AGENT.

His tweeted reply: “If an agent does not specify they are NOT, then assume they are open, to some degree. Query and hope for best.”

(I’m querying agents now for my self-published women’s friendship novel MRS. LIEUTENANT – – a 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist.)

Actively promoting an earlier novel, and getting good response to that promoting, might even catch the eye of an agent looking for a specific type of story. Who knows? But this is definitely another reason to say yes to promoting earlier novels.

Q: Do you have any tips for crafting an “elevator pitch” for a book?

I wish I had tips for this book marketing task that all authors need to consider. A good one sentence pitch requires boiling things down to the essential points that will attract the target audiences.

For example, if your book is mainly a romance but has a subplot about illegal immigrants, I’d probably pitch the romance and leave out the illegal immigrants in a one-sentence pitch. Of course, in that one sentence I would want to give some flavor of the obstacles to the romance in order to indicate that the love plot does not run smoothly.

I also once learned in a screenplay pitch training session that expecting people to remember the names of the people they just heard pitched is not realistic. And those names can confuse what people do hear.

For example, in this query two-sentence blurb I have been using for my work-in-progress dystopian thriller THE MOTHER SIEGE (read it on Wattpad at, note that I do not give the mother’s name nor any details about her profession or where she lives, etc. The only information about the mother is that she’s already a subversive for what could be considered a very good reason:

Imagine the future of 2049 and the government has just decreed that, in 30 days, all children from the ages of six months to 18 years will be removed to group homes. And as a mother you are already a subversive – having falsified the death of one of your children at birth to avoid the child being "eliminated."

The good news about crafting an elevator pitch is that we can continually refine it. Keep an eye on reviews your book may get for phrases that leap out at you as excellent fodder for a revised pitch. We authors will take good suggestions from anywhere!

Tweet #1  How to promote your earlier novels. (Please click to tweet)

Tweet #2  How to craft an elevator pitch for your book. (Please click to tweet)

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) is a fiction and nonfiction author who blogs on book-related topics at and you can learn more about her on LinkedIn at


  1. I think the IWSG anthology is a great idea!

  2. Great post. I agree an anthology sounds like a great idea. What wonderful way to celebrate the community too. Lots of wonderful info here today. Happy Writings
    Writer's Gambit

  3. If we do it right, we can promote our earlier titles as long as we want.
    I think of the one sentence logline as a movie tagline. For me, it's easier to write than the actual synopsis.

    1. Thanks for your continuing support, Captain. I hope you realize how important you are to our community. You rock, Alex!

  4. Oh I am intrigued by that 2049 scenario - sounds like a fascinating idea for a story/movie

  5. It used to be agents were never interested in self-published books. How the industry has changed.

    1. I know. So much is changing. Mind boggling to think what will come next.

  6. The book sounds like a useful resource. I hope I could think of something worthwhile to contribute.

  7. Very informative post. Thanks! :)

    IWSG #179 until Alex culls the list again.

  8. I like the idea of the anthology too, although since I'm not yet published, I'm nost sure I'd have anything to contribute. I'm looking forward to reading it though!

    1. Thanks, Ken. If you change your mind, keep us in mind.

  9. Joylene, thanks for the IWSG info. I think it is a wonderful group. Phyllis, thank you - as always, I appreciate your insight.

    1. Thank you, Karen, for your continuing support. Have a great week.

  10. Wow! Lots of useful information here! You know, I participated in a regular pitch session and the thing I remember the most is that most authors saved the "hooky" parts of their pitches for last (like the book's climax, right?) when agents actually preferred if we led with the hook. That was eye opening for me.

  11. This is a great post and I'm now determined to promote my older books. I started with one already when the publisher lowered the price of the ebook. These points will help me. Thank you.
    The IWSG sounds like a great book too. Look forward to reading it.

    1. Good luck with your venture, Beverly. Thanks for dropping by.

  12. I should do more to promote my older books. Thanks for sharing these ideas.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to visit, Susan. It's so appreciated.

  13. Hi Joylene .. the IWSG idea in the first place was great - and three years on .. that proves it .. then the Anthology - what a brilliant concept for all participants ...

    Phyllis' ideas for utilising new technologies makes perfect sense ... and that elevator pitch is a challenge at the best of times - practise makes perfect .. cheers Hilary

    1. I'm very excited about the anthology, Hilary. Thanks for visiting.

  14. Such a helpful post. So glad I stopped by. I need to give some love to my first two books. Thanks for the reminder.

  15. Great post. The anthology sounds like a great idea. Wonderful way to celebrate the community too. Lots of wonderful information here today. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It's going to be packed with excellent resources, too. Can't wait. Thanks for visiting, RR.

  16. I think the fact that it won the breakthrough award in 2008 is a HUGE plus. Plus if it was self-published a while ago, I would think it would actually be an advantage if it didn't have a huge readership. It would be similar to not being published at all. But I assume publishers look at the numbers, even though a self-pubbed author doesn't have the power to get it out there like mainstream publishers do.

  17. Wow! What wonderful advice. I like that the advice is clear and points out things I wouldn't have thought of on my own. :) Thanks!

  18. I see no problem promoting older works. It would be a shame to see them disappear.

  19. I hope older work continues to get some press. If it holds up over time, that's what writers hope for.

  20. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful information!

  21. Very informative!
    I especially love the comment: What’s the downside of a little extra love for our older “children”?
    Yes, gotta be fair to all the kids! No favoritism, hey?
    Hope you're well, Joylene! *waving*

  22. Great post. Very informative! And I love the idea of the book for the IWSG anniversary. Great job you all!

  23. I'm a little late commenting, but I enjoyed the info from Phyllis, and think the anthology sounds like a great way to celebrate the IWSG anniversary. Congrats to your membership!


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