Category : Marketing and Platforms

  • March 27, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: How the Movie “UNDERWORLD” Perfectly Portrays Today’s Publishing World

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    2014Amanda

    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

     

    Have you seen Underworld?

    In this rather awesome and yet equally terrible movie, the vampires and the lycans are at odds (duh). The vampires are snooty and privileged and literally SLEEPING UNDERGROUND while the world passes them by.  The lycans, on the other hand, are rule-breakers and thugs. They do what they want and for obvious reasons don’t get along with the vamps.

    There is a particularly attractive lycan-hunting vampire girl who is tracking a lowly human that most women my age would know as Ben from Felicity. Ben from Felicity is being followed by lycans, and the hot vamp chick wants to know why. The truth is soon revealed when the lycans bite Ben from Felicity and turn him. By now the hot vampire lady is torn! She has grown to care for Ben from Felicity, and how can she love her enemy?! She eventually decides to get over herself and love him anyway, but then he is once again injured and near death (wimp). She does what she has been warned not to do and bites him, thus making him both vampire and lycan–a creation that is rumored to be stronger than either species. They call him a hybrid. Eventually, he is able to bring about peace between the clans.

    So why do I bring this up? Why walk you through the ENTIRE movie premise?

    Because it adequately portrays what’s happening in publishing, and every time I hear the term “hybrid author,” I immediately think of Ben from Felicity (and I wanted you to

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  • March 21, 2014

    Engineered Bestsellers, Rock Star Pastors, and Rosie Ruiz

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    by Ghostwriter [While this says it’s written by Chip MacGregor, it is not. It’s written by a professional collaborative writer who is a friend — Chip just posted it.]

    Hi. I’m Ghostwriter and I’m the collaborative author of an engineered bestseller.

    The news that Mars Hill Church paid ResultSource about $200,000 to get Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage on the New York Times bestseller list shocked a lot of people. For me, that news solved a mystery.

    As I already mentioned, I am a collaborative author and occasionally a ghostwriter. Although I am a published author in my own right, I learned long ago that I could earn a much better living helping other people write their books. It’s a good life, and I enjoy my work. Nevertheless, I still hope that someday I’ll see one of my books on a bestseller list—any bestseller list.

    This explains my obsession with Amazon rankings and sales figures.

    I know, I know…

    You have to take Amazon numbers with several hundred grains of salt. I get that. But I still enjoy checking my author page and seeing how many copies of my books have sold in the previous week. Generally, the numbers are unremarkable. Sometimes they are depressing. But a while back those numbers astonished and mystified me.

    I’d collaborated on a book with a megachurch pastor and, although it was a contract job for which I received a flat fee and no royalties, I asked for and received cover credit. Because my name was on the cover, I was able to list the book on my Amazon author page and track its sales statistics. Even though I wasn’t going to receive royalties for the book, I was still curious to see how well it was selling.

    So I set the book up and waited for the launch date. The first week’s sales stats took my breath away. The book went from zero

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  • March 20, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Respecting Your Art

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    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    An old college friend was telling me a story about a potential client he was talking with. This friend of mine does freelance editing and proofing (he proofed my book, The Extroverted Writer), and so he is regularly courting new clients, trying to meet their expectations while also sharing with them the reality of the business.

    This particular client of my friend’s was one of those type A, demanding, bull-headed types. You know who I’m talking about…a real-life Miranda Priestly or Bart Bass. Shrewd. Demanding. With no concept or concern for how much work it takes to produce a quality result.

    The client had a 58,000-word manuscript that he wanted proofread, but the real kicker was that he wanted the project done in two days. When my friend pushed back and told him that, with a full-time job and other responsibilities on top of his freelancing gig, there was no way he could get it done and done well in that timeframe, the guy refused to accept such an answer. Said something about how it HAD to be ready for publication and how there was NO ROOM FOR AN EXTENSION.

    My friend politely turned the project down.

    I used to edit and proofread for a publishing company. They’d hand me a fiction manuscript, give me a week’s worth of time, and then a month later a check for a whopping $150 would hit my account. I had gotten the job after hearing that they needed someone to edit and proof for under $200 a pop. I had

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  • March 19, 2014

    Making sure I get the story straight…

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    I was once let go from a job in publishing for “creative differences,” the same week another guy was let go, at another company, for some very different reasons. We worked in the same industry, are the same race and age, and he lived in a city where I had once lived. Several people got our stories mixed up. I had a writing conference cancel my participation at their event, saying they had heard rumors that cast me in a bad light, and that they didn’t want me coming. You can imagine my surprise when I was told they were un-inviting me, since none of what they’d heard was actually true. I invited them to call my former boss, to talk with the people around me, and to check my references. But I also got angry — I mean, they made their decisions based on a RUMOR? They’d never even called me to ask about it? They never checked facts with anyone at my former employer? Nope. They just heard a story and took it as gospel … and, to make matters worse, the other guy (the one who had actually been fired from that other house) was scheduled to speak at their conference. (I didn’t mention that to the conference director. I figured she could figure out the truth on her own damn time.)

    I’ve never gone back to that conference, and I’ve never forgotten how much that error hurt. It’s why I want to make sure I get my facts straight on the stories I write, so that I don’t share something hurtful about somebody unfairly. I don’t mind offering bad news, and I realize some people will read my blog to get some information that publishers are too frequently reluctant to share, but I want to make sure I get my facts correct.

    Here’s why I mention all of this: I got a couple of phone calls

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  • March 13, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Video Critiques, part 2

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    2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Today, we’re going to take a look at some more author videos (ones that were submitted for critique), and we’ll start by one from The Writing Sisters:

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    I like the concept of this one in which the authors really sell themselves while providing plenty of things to look at. It does seem slightly dated with the music and the color of the background, but you know…I think it still does the job.

    And what job may that be?

    This video is a sort of pitch video. It can be used when trying to secure speaking engagements OR, more importantly, when trying to win over a publishing team. In publishing, we do business with people that we like, and authors should take any chance they can get to make a great impression and win over a publishing house. A video such as this would be played during the pub board meeting. It would help the team feel more connected with the authors, whose book they’re evaluating, and in turn would make them more likely to say ‘yes.’ This video I think would accomplish that, as it does a great job of positioning the authors not only as experts and experienced in their field, but as people who will be really fun to work with. That’s a win-win.

    The next video is another pitch video, but this one from a brand new writer who is seeking representation:


    I think Jessica did a great job maintaining a professional demeanor while also communicating passionately about her book. Her lines were memorized

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  • March 6, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Video Critiques

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    2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    I’d like to wrap up my series on book videos by taking a look at some videos from readers. These were submitted to me after my call for video submissions last week, and I have the authors’ permission to dissect them online…but still, I promise to be nice!

    The first is a publisher-created book trailer from author Elizabeth Ludwig for her Edge of Freedom Series:

    So this is  a great example of the kind of video that publishers usually produce (though I was informed that Bethany House did NOT produce this particular trailer). It’s well-done, but it’s nothing but vague text, thrilling music, and random video clips. And what’s more is that when everything is put together, it tells a muddled story…

    Because publishers don’t actually go out and film the clips that are used in trailers (they buy them off of stock sites), you end up with a product that lacks cohesion. Everything looks like it came from something else…and it did. So if you’ve ever watched a book trailer and felt lost or confused, it’s not you. It’s the mixture of all of the various clips that are trying so desperately to come together to tell one story while falling short.

    When I watched, it took me awhile to figure out not only where we were, but what time period. The Celtic music and typography narrowed the possibilities. But then you have an almost viking-looking ship (circa 1100s), a shot of a modern-day handgun, medieval-like tavern and horse clips, and finally a shot of the Brooklyn

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  • February 27, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Free Video Critique

    by

    2014Amanda

    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Here’s where your author, promo, or book video gets put to the test.

    We’ve been talking a lot about book trailers and videos lately. We started on this journey by looking at the different types of viral videos. Then, I compared two book trailers, showing how a great, viral-type trailer can increase awareness. Then we looked at the components of a viral video, and lastly, I shared some ideas that would make creating a viral video easier.

    Yet, all of this is just speculation. It’s just information.

    So let’s look at YOUR videos. I promise to be nice. But I also promise to be honest.

    Post the YouTube link to your book trailer/author video/video promo below, and I’ll share my thoughts. What I think was done right, what I think needs work, and maybe even some ideas of how you could recraft it to hit that viral potential that is so droolworthy.

    Any takers? Anyone? This is your chance to get my opinion on something for absolutely free!

    ___________

    LIKE MY MARKETING ADVICE? My book, The Extroverted Writer is now available in print!

    FRONT Business_Card_Vertical

     

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  • February 22, 2014

    Author Earnings, Amazon, and the Future of Ebooks

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    There has been a ton of discussion over a report on author earnings  by ebook authors (which you can find here: http://authorearnings.com/the-report/), the response to it (http://tinyurl.com/pcebsd5), and the responses to the responses (two of the best are http://tinyurl.com/kbjts5s and http://tinyurl.com/omkjz6v ). If you follow this discussions in our industry, you already know what’s going on: successful self-published author of Wool, Hugh Howey, did a bunch of research and came to the conclusion that self-published authors are selling more books and making more money than those publishing with traditional publishers. It was quickly pointed out that there were some problems with Howey’s work — he sells his books on Amazon, did all his research on Amazon, and (surprise!) came to the conclusion that Amazon is a great place to do your ebooks. Nevertheless, there were really some interesting things that showed up in his research:

    —Indie-published ebooks have generally higher ratings on Amazon than Legacy-published ebooks.

    —Indie-published ebooks generally cost less than Legacy-published ebooks, possibly leading consumers to the sense of getting better value from indies.

    —Indie-published ebooks may be outselling Legacy-published ebooks (this is more inferred than proven).

    —Indie-published ebooks constitute a larger percentage of books sales than we’ve been led to believe in the past (Howey estimates it’s more than 50% of all book sales, though his methodology lacks stringent validity testing).

    —Indie-published authors of ebooks are earning more per book than Legacy-published ebook authors. (Though his argument that Indie-published authors are making more overall is based on very shaky evidence.)

    It’s all fascinating stuff, and I believe his conclusion that publishing’s brightest days are ahead is spot-on. As an agent, I’ve never felt I was one of the people who needed to protect the status quo — the fact is, I believe in authors self-publishing.. Unfortunately, the debate that arose after Howey released his findings was considerably less than insightful. It’s become a fairly

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  • February 20, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: The Cheater’s Way to a Viral Video

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    2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Last week I tried to tackle the components of a viral video…I say “tried” because that’s exactly what it was. An attempt to wrangle something that is so elusive for so many.

    But I also promised that there were alternatives to the high-budget, high production suggestions that I made. Now these alternatives aren’t magical, and many of you will still walk away feeling like videos are impossible. And that’ fine! Videos are not necessary to sell books. I think Divergent‘s terrible book trailer proved that. But for those of you who are wanting to give it a go, here are some ideas…

    COLLEGE STUDENTS

    There’s this site called 99designs. You upload your information and needs and then graphic designers from all over compete for your business. They present their designs and then you can actually have friends vote on their favorites. You then pay the winning designer something like $299 and that’s that. You have your design, and that designer has a bit of cash.

    Why can’t we do this with viral videos?!

    In college I was part of a number of “videos.” Someone on campus would have a camera and they’d write a script and we’d go out and film. Once I was even co-writer/co-director/co-actor of a video that we entered into the campus film festival! (We won most creative, by the way). My point is COLLEGE KIDS LOVE CREATING VIDEOS. And they’re pretty good at it. Especially if they’re part of a film program.

    There are two options here…

    THE IN-CLASS ASSIGNMENT

    Most professors are

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  • February 13, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: What Goes In To A Viral Video

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    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    We’ve spent the past few weeks talking about viral videos. Last week, we looked at the difference between exciting and…not-so-exciting book trailers. This week, we’re unpacking the “How-to” behind a great video. Now, it’s not rocket science, so if you were expecting a magic formula, I’m sorry to disappoint. But at the same time, I think it’s doable. It’s feasible. Viral videos can be a freak phenomenon for sure, but at the same time there are clear ways to increasing your chances of experiencing that very viralness.

    So now that we have a sort of understanding, here’s my list of essentials for a video to go viral:

    • Know what you’re selling. Are you peddling a book? An in-store event? A writers conference? Your editing services? Figure out the driving force behind the video. The more specific, the better.
    • Choose your emotion. The only reason viral videos get shared and watched is because they cause the viewer to FEEL something. Most viral videos cause laughter. Some are suspenseful and put the viewer in a state of unease. Some, like the Budweiser Puppy Love commercial, create a sense of sadness and, later, warm fuzziness. Consider the type of emotional response you want from your viewers, and while you’re doing that…
    • Create your concept. Here’s where your creative juices should come in handy. You’ll want to come up with something unique…something creative that will entertain viewers while highlighting whatever it is you’re selling. Writing a video is no different than writing a novel, really. You’ll want to plan it out
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