Friday, March 6, 2009

The Writer Mama Two-Year Anniversary Blog Tour Giveaway! Post #6

As promised Christina Katz is my guest author today. I met Christina at the NY Book Expo almost two years ago when I purchased her book, Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids and to my delight Christina signed my copy. It is the perfect book to have in your writer’s library. Without further ado, I present to you Christina Katz.

Okay, so yesterday, I was talking about how writers often struggle with book proposals and how it can be the same story with query letters. But the writers I’ve met over the years who don’t have trouble writing queries or proposals are typically more comfortable with selling themselves than your most.

This brings me to a point I’ve been making lately when I speak and teach about the four skill sets that all writers need to have to be competitive in these times. The first two are:

- Continually improving writing craft.

- Selling words by pitching yourself.

In the Writer Mama story that I’ve been telling, you can see how my willingness to pitch myself and my book concept was instrumental to landing a book deal eventually.

But sometimes I encounter writers who like to grumble. And one thing they like to grumble about is how “somebody else” stole their idea, wrote it down and got it published.

Well, if that is the case, then guess what they are not doing enough? They are probably not pitching their ideas as much as they could. Because if they were, they would be the one ushering their ideas into print instead of watching others beat them to the byline.

Not that I’m not sympathetic. Wishing you’d written it first happens to the best of us. But if it happens often then the skill to work on next is SELLING. I need to work on it. You need to work on it. And so does every writer.

Today's Book Drawing: To enter to win a signed, numbered copy of Writer Mama, answer the following question in this blog's comments:

What can writers do to improve their sales skills? What have you done? What have you seen other writers do? Any creative solutions?

Thanks for participating! Only US residents, or folks with a US mailing address can participate in the drawing. Please only enter once per day.

Where will the drawing be tomorrow? Visit to continue reading the rest of the Writer Mama story throughout March 2009!


  1. It sounds simple but I think by watching other "traditional" salespeople, writers can learn a lot about what works and doesn't in selling. For example, what does the person do at Nordstrom's that makes me want to buy their not-so-inexpensive shoes? That person is confident, they know their product, they aren't pushy, they offer to help. Not only can I utilize the same skills in pitching my writing but it reminds me that "selling is okay." In some ways, selling is just another form of social transaction. Seeing selling as something we all do in some way helps remove the fear that can come up when I'm trying to sell anything - whether it be Camp Fire candy in my youth or my writing today.

  2. Writing can be so beautiful, depending on the author's intent and word choice. Even a query letter should be crafted carefully. The key is knowing your audience's needs.
    For many reasons, sending a letter to an unknown person can be a challenge.
    Thank you for creating this opportunity to learn more about those unknown editors .

  3. What can writers do to improve their sales skills? What have you done? What have you seen other writers do? Any creative solutions?

    Honestly I thought you said one question - lol. I see four questions all at once.

    To answer:
    1) To improve your sales skills practice, practice, practice - practice talking to your dog like he's a customer, practice talking to your family and friends as if they are visiting you at a book signing, don't hound the folks to buy your books but keep your display interesting so that they will be curious enough to come to the area and talk to you.
    2) I've done like three book signings now and the biggest thing with me is that I have an interactive book signing. Since I am doing a children's series on all 50 states, I have games and prizes and giveaways all related to what my books are about. If I see that they have kids I try to gently guide them to the table to play my state/capital matching game or guess my state game by the cover clues (only two covers right now since the third book has a cover but it not finished yet). I put items in their hands that will get me to my target audience - I also let them know I have teacher's guides so the books are a good supplement in the schools. I'm working on getting in the schools (it just takes time and having more books available).
    3) I've not really seen what other writers do since I hardly get to go out to book signings or anything like that because of job constraints and other things going on.
    4) Creative ideas - make yourself marketable and your books. Create something that is a great idea and the books should start selling themselves. Having a tagline helps too - like for my series, The Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state, mystery, trivia series - my tagline is Where will the adventure take you next? Since you don't have any idea what state is coming next, the kids are on a game adventure and therefore, don't know where they will go next time they turn on the game.

    I can't stres enough to authors to get out there and talk up their books, hand out business cards everywhere even if they don't have a book yet (if they have a cover and they are pretty close to publication - by that I mean at least within 6 months) they should be talking about being a writer and what they have coming up. You need people to visit you on the web so creating a presence is a big deal nowadays. If you don't have at least a blog, you are so out of the loop.

    There are lots of great ideas floating out in cyberspace; the trick is to stop being shy and approach every potential customer as if they were an old friend. I used to be very shy until I had kids and I never would have imagine myself sitting in an area doing a book signing. But here I am, writing a children's series and doing book signings. Watch for the JGDS series in your area and see where the adventure takes you next - E :)

  4. What can writers do to improve their sales skills? What have you done? What have you seen other writers do? Any creative solutions?

    I had two challenges when I started taking my career seriously. The first was that I had no published clips right away, so what was I going to promote on my website? The second was that I had limited time to spend on my writing because I had little ones at home.

    I attended the first Muse Online Writers Conference. By that time I had 6 articles I had written for a defunct online newsletter--which I had received no payment on. Someone in our discussion group asked about writing for a market that only offers clips and I mentioned how helpful that was to me with my time management articles because it gave me the clips I needed. Well, that discussion caught the attention of an editor and I've been contributing to Writer2Writer ever since.

    One of the best things I did was take a public speaking course. While I never had a real fear of speaking in public, it has made me more comfortable speaking about my skills. I'm also an online publicist for Pump Up Your Book Promotion, and needing to promote other writers has helped me feel more confident in how I handle self-promotion.

    The one thing that I stress to my clients is that no one knows their books as well as they do, so they are the best people to promote them. If a writer takes the time and puts forth the effort to publish a book, he/she must believe in it, because we all know it's not an easy road. Hold onto that belief and use it to inspire you to talk about your book.


  5. Writers have to believe in their book and in themselves. The same passion with which they write in, can also be expressed in the query letter. When we believe in something it shows. A publisher is introduced to me through my query letter. He or she has not read my book. I have to use my voice and style in my query letter, yet balance it with professionalism. Like any good salesperson, I have to be convincing and produce curiousity; my book is wonderful and has something to offer.

  6. I launched a blog two years ago and a website last year, both of which have really helped me to promote my writing and workshops and stay in touch with people who are interested in my work.

    I also began using constant contact to send out e-mail newsletters announcing my events and special things happening on my blog (give-aways etc.) and have had a very positive response.

    I am in the process of having business cards made, which I am really looking forward to.

    Oh and I added my website to my bio in the newspaper so now people who read my features and columns in the newspaper can find me online and learn more about me and my writing.

    Those are the main self-promotiong/selling-type things I have done in the past year...all of which were surprisingly comfortable and very well received.

  7. We, as writers, have to divorce ourselves from rejection to be better salespeople. Letting go of the emotional issues we have with rejection is key, I think.

    Of course, I suffer with that every day. I'm working on separating a person's reaction to an idea that I have from their reaction to me. One way to do that is to put myself in more situations in which I'll receive feedback and have to deal with it.

    Pitching is perfect for that. As is reading from a work in progress.

  8. I entered motherhood. How did this help improve my sales skills you might ask? Simple. I have no choice; I make money or I leave the writing dream in the back seat and steer my way to a steady paycheck somewhere else. It's the mama bear motivation theory.

    So this mama bear is connecting with other writers, taking classes, setting goals, starting a blog, flirting with a website and reaching out to my community literal, virtual and otherwise.

    This is my dream. I must sell my work to live it. Also, if I want to teach my children that they can do anything they want to in this life of opportunity, I must show them the way.

  9. Read. Not just books about writing and marketing books, but also books about general sales and marketing.

    Tiffany Colter ( offers an online course in marketing and building a platform that assigns a wide variety of books. It is a good resource for writers who need to build further skill in marketing.

  10. I think it's helpful to remember that this business comes down to people working with people. Agents and Editors need good Writers as much as the other way around.

    I agree with the importance of moving past any of our emotional issues about rejection and putting ourselves out there because that's you holding you back and who has that kind of time?

    And then, for me it helps to pretend I'm Lois Lane. I wish I was kidding :)

  11. What everyone is saying about not being shy and just getting out there rings true to me, as does Liz's excellent observation about traditional salespeople. People who are kind and who seem to instantly find a connection with me make me like them and I want to hear what they have to say. In the case of shopping for something, I want to buy from them.

    I makes me think about my mom who has a nationwide business selling her own line of greeting cards. She has reps in many states but also does her own sales over the phone in areas where she can't find a rep. And you know what? Her numbers are far and above any of the reps because 1) she has a great product, 2) she knows her product better than anyone else and 3) she is incredibly gifted with interpersonal skills. People just want to buy from her.

    We have a great product to sell, too. I think Christina's right about seeing our books/articles/essays as products. It helps to think about getting out there and selling my writing--the product of my labor--instead of myself. It helps me to think about it not being a personal affront if someone doesn't want to print my product.

  12. Tomorrow's the last day of the blog tour and the hostess gifts are in! Come on over to Robin Mizell's blog and chime in if you have time!

    And thanks again for hosting!


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Please be sure to leave your blog address so I can reciprocate.

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