His 2010 humor book, HOWTO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, was optioned by Sony Pictures. His second humor book, RED DOG / BLUE DOG (2012), is a humorous photo collection of dogs doing liberal and conservative things. His books have been mentioned in Reader’s Digest, USA Today, the New York Times, The Huffington Post, Variety, and more.
Chuck has also written the writing guides FORMATTING & SUBMITTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT and CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM (2012).
Besides that, he is a freelancebook & query editor, husband, sleep-deprived new father, and owner of a flabby-yet-lovable dog named Graham. Find Chuck on Twitter and on Facebook.
I started at Writer’s Digest magazine in 2005. A year later, a position opened up on the books side of WD working on their annual market books. My job since then has evolved to handling whatever they ask me to do—including e-commerce stuff, tweeting, blogging, speaking at conferences, and editing my two market books. It’s a grand adventure, but all aspects of my job focus on helping writers get published—something I enjoy deeply.
The Guide to Literary Agents Blog began 5 years ago and has been quite a journey. I feel like I’ve learned so much along the way, so I’ll just be short. As the years went on, I started to pay attention to different things, such as what readers responded to, what kinds of posts generated more page views, and how to get others to contribute content to me. These 3 things, along with a ton of other factors, have helped it grow from nothing into one of the biggest blogs in publishing. Every month, I get e-mails from multiple people saying they used the blog to get an agent.
Platform is the connections & avenues you develop before you need help spreading the word about your book. Publicity is when your book is out and you ask other people, many of whom you do not know well, to cover your book in the media.
The first two are pretty darn important. #1 is “It is in giving that we receive.” In other words, you must offer other people distinct value to get them to follow you. Make them smile; inform them; cull together information; teach them how to change a tire; create some website that makes their lives easier. If you can do this on a website or in person or through social media, then you will gain followers and fans and contacts. Thus, you will create networks of people who trust you and will consider buying your book(s). That’s platform! Most people simply tweet about what’s happening in their day because that is the easiest thing to do. But that information is of no mass value to people, so a platform never materializes. Remember that providing real value to people is often difficult.
First, I advise you not to step into this world half-heartedly. If you are going to reluctantly blog or reluctantly tweet or reluctantly speak to local groups of people, then this is not the best path for you. Your dispassion will come through in your work, and a following will not manifest. And that’s OK. After all, fiction writers don’t need platform…
- The “loose connection” niche: This is where you talk about a subject that has a loose connection to your book(s). An example would be an author who writes crime fiction with a Native-American protagonist. This author could blog about legislation and news affecting Native communities.
- The “altogether different” niche. This is where you develop a platform focusing on whatever you like—perhaps something like a capella singing or mountain biking. You attempt to develop a platform large in size, so that some of your large following will also have an interest in books—and those people will buy your novel.
- The “writing focus” niche. This is where you discuss writing and books and publishing. Beware, though. Many people take this approach, and only the hardest working, most original approaches succeed. Remember that talking about your own publishing journey is often not of high value. You must bring more to the table—reviews, news, interviews, etc.
If it’s too much trouble to blog, start a blog with multiple people so you all work together. Or contribute to an existing blog. That will help you get some visibility but cut back on your workload.
Both. Page views show your wide reach. Comments are more reflective of how many hardcore followers you have. Obviously, hardcore followers will be shoo-ins to buy your book, and that’s great. (They will also spread the word about your book when it comes out to help you—this proving Fundamental Principle #2.) But you can’t just market your book to the same 50-200 loyal readers. You’ve got to meet new readers and show up on Google searches. That kind of success is reflective in growing page views.
One thing people need to understand is that your first goal when joining Twitter is to listen. It is an information-sharing site, so go on there, follow people, and read what they are sharing. There is more great tutelage and instruction going around than can be consumed.
Google Analytics can start to show you which posts are getting the most attention. From there, you can try to analyze why this is so. Perhaps you had a great blog post title; perhaps someone famous blogged about your article and sent new people your way; perhaps you happen to be the only person on the planet blogging about left-handed writers born in Romania (so you should continue on the topic!).
I’m editing the 2014 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the 2014 CHILDREN’S WRITER’S & ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET. Outside of that, my agent and I are shopping proposals for my next guide on writing as well as my next pop humor book. Hopefully I will have good news to share in 2013. I love meeting writers, so please stay in touch with me through Twitter (@chucksambuchino) and my website, chucksambuchino.com
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. International entries are welcome.
Tomorrow I'll be doing a cover reveal for my friend Terry Johnson. I hope you'll stop by and congratulate her on her awesome cover.
Friday Casey has a guest post on love and romance in YA books.
And next Wednesday, Casey and I have a super awesome 3000 follower mega giveaway. You won't want to miss it.
The following Monday I'm interviewing Carrie Harris about writing humor and platform and giving away her new book BAD HAIR DAY and BAD TASTE IN BOYS. Carrie has a great knack in creating funny, really likeable characters. I went to her book signing for BAD HAIR DAY and discovered she lives in my town. I was SO excited to find that out and I'm excited to share her books with you.
And Wednesday that week I'm thrilled to interview Shannon Messenger about her new YA book LET THE SKY FALL. I'm part of her blog tour and the tour is sponsoring a giveaway. And because Shannon's my friend and I loved her book, I have a giveaway too.
And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.
Hope to see you on Monday!