More Sculpture Saturday.
Since my children were small, there’s been a basket in the corner of our living room filled with Christmas books. Some are children’s books, some are grownups’, some are fiction, some are non-fiction. They’ve been collected over decades, and I reread a few every year. I’ve even reviewed a few of my favorites.
I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas story of my own. About a year ago I came up with an idea of a retelling of a classic Christmas tale—and that’s all I’m going to tell you about it, because I’m working hard at finishing it, and I’d really be bummed if you took my idea and did a better and quicker job of it than me.
Writing Christmas books is much like writing any other kind of book, but with a few slight differences. The same expectations for all fiction also apply to Christmas fiction: a vivid setting, a conflict, a main character who grows through time; a beginning, middle, and end; an arc with escalating action that leads to a satisfying conclusion. Christmas fiction also needs to evoke the feelings of the holidays, awakening associations through the senses: the twinkling lights, the smell of pine, the flavor of gingerbread, the sound of jingle bells. Christmas stories can be shorter than other novels, like 50,000 to 65,000 words rather than 90,000 to 300,000.
Christmas books generally sell from October through December. New Christmas books typically appear on shelves the first Tuesday in October. If you self-publish, you’ll want to launch in early October as well. Your book will languish from January through September, but you’ll be wise to self-promote it again starting each October.
Are you thinking of writing a Christmas book of your own? These articles may help you:
Look. Listen. Dream.
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It’s pretty common knowledge in the publishing industry that most book signing tours don’t generate big bucks for new authors. Sure—book tours can stir up buzz and interest. But most of the time, bookstore tours are put in place only after an author has established some kind of meaningful reputation that can translate into lines that wrap around the store.
These days, there’s a new way of connecting with readers that doesn’t involve brick-and-mortar book signings: blog tours. A blog tour is when an author does a series of interviews or guest posts on the blogs of book readers and reviewers. Blog tours are fantastic for author self-promotion.
Most of the time, blog tours are synchronized with book releases so that writers can sell more copies of their books. Blog tours can be inexpensive, fun, and rewarding!
There are many ways to kick off your promotional blog tour. You can:
If you’re a DIYer and want to book a blog tour without having to pay for publicity help, here are the five steps that will get your book on great blogs.
1. Start reading book blogs. Do your research and narrow your focus to those blogs whose audiences are active readers in your genre. Make a list and track the blog’s attributes, audience participation, readership, and proclivities. HINT: Establish a clear minimum number in your head for the number of blogs that you’d like to appear on.
2. Establish a relationship. If possible, begin leaving comments on the blogs you like. Visit regularly. You may need to demonstrate your genuine appreciation of the blog before you’re invited to appear on it. Use Twitter and other networks to give shout-outs to blogs you like.
3. Write up a pitch plan. Some bloggers have writers beating down their door, begging for reviews and free promotion. You’ll need to make yourself stand out with a personal touch as well as an incentive. Are you willing to give away free copies of your book? Is your idea of what you’d like to “do” on the blog consistent with what the blogger is already doing? Are you willing to do interviews or only guest posts? Will you host the blogger on your author blog in exchange?
4. Draft your “nice to meet you” letter. Reach out to the blogger via a personal email when possible. Be kind, flexible, and maybe a little deferential: you’re asking to be invited to the party, after all. Express your appreciation for the blog and volunteer to host a giveaway (should the blogger believe that his/her audience would benefit from your visit to the blog).
5. Follow instructions carefully. If a blogger agrees to host you, be sure to follow directions. Also, include links to your social networks and author website in your post—just don’t overdo it.
6. Set up your blog calendar. On the days that your blog post is to appear on each guest blog, be sure to put in an appearance that day. Leave comments, interact with readers, thank the host for having you. Then, if you’re running a contest, follow up as soon as possible by sending out the prize.
Be sure to thank your host for his/her willingness to help you; you might even want to mail out a little thank-you gift. Then, keep your contacts well organized so that when you have another reason to do a blog tour, their contact information will be at your fingertips.
QUESTION: Do you like the idea of doing a blog tour?
This will work with your poetry word pool, too!